CBC’s Information Morning recently conducted interviews with Shelly Hipson (Aug 10, 2020) and Raymond Plourde ( Aug 11, 2020) about their thoughts and concerns as we approach the 2-year anniversary of the “Lahey Report”.
On Aug 19, 2020, Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin was interviewed and asked to respond to concerns expressed in those interviews. As well, the Minister was asked about renewal of the WestFor Agreement and when the review of progress by Prof Lahey could be expected. View/listen to Forestry Minister Responds (audio), CBC, Aug 19, 2020.
Following is an Abbreviated Transcript* of the Interview with Minister Rankin
*I often post “abbreviated transcripts” of interviews on radio and TV as a matter of record, a prime objective of this blog being to keep track of Nova Scotia forestry in the news (see About this site). One can listen to the interviews, but in this rushed world it’s faster to read the transcript, albeit you miss some of the nuances. It is not Hansard, and for the sake of getting though it in less than a day, the transcript is not always precise, but I attempt not to change the essence of what is said in any way, and in most cases one can check out the original audio files or videos. I also do it because it makes me listen carefully to what is being said, whether I like what’s being said or not.
CBC: On Friday it would have been a full 2 years since Bill Lahey released his Independent review of Forest Practices. As we have heard on Information Morning, some people in the environmentalist community say not much has been achieved in that time to change the way forestry is done in this province. They are worried the Lahey report may not have the impact that was hoped for. CBC’s Michael Gorman talked to L&F Minister Iain Rankin to talk about what’s happened in the last 2 years.
MG (Michael Gorman): There are some people who are worried that the Lahey report is essentially collecting dust on the shelf…that came out with a lot of fanfare a lot of strong promises on the part of government, but folks haven’t seen a lot tangible movement…what would you say to those people..?
IR (Iain Rankin): Well some of those people I can say don’t fully endorse the report.. They obviously want to see stand level changes, less clearcutting that is part of it. The Interim Guidelines were implemented in collaboration with some of the major authors on how to retain those types of tree species ..I do hear criticism about the retention levels, that it is just 10-30% so it’s just more trees being laid there but these are the trees that are most important to retain to shift the focus from single-age management to multi-aged management. So that’s happening No 1.
No 2, the Guide as I said is being strengthened and it is being worked on with the authors of the report and we are making a lot of progress.. but at the same time you have to appreciate that Ecological Forestry, the way it is implemented in the report is through the Triad systems
So we are going to need some support for the High Production leg of the Triad. I know there is criticism on that side of things but it has to be a balanced approach in how we actually implement the recommendations…and we are only going to get there only if we are working on all 3 legs of the Triad simultaneously, including the conservation leg where we see there will have to be more protected areas and there are some under consultation now.
So we are moving ahead and it’s not easy because it brings up challenges for those industry players that need fibre to support family-run sawmills.
So I think we are taking a prudent approach to the transition and as Bob Seymour says, this transition has never happened anywhere in the world so it’s not something to be rushed.
MG: When you are working on this file Minister which candidly strikes me must be a major headache at times, you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. How difficult is it to find that balance that you reference where on the one hand you are dealing with an industry that’s already been kicked in the teeth a whole bunch and is trying to hang on, while on the other hand recognizing that to do things the way they have done them for 50 years is just not going to cut it anymore?
IR: Well there is more expectation that we put biodiversity values and nature first and I agree with that, I do think the industry by and large has accepted that they have to change their usual procedures when they are harvesting wood for wood supply. Those two things have not always been seen as acceptable to do at the same time but this is why we had the report commissioned and we have a roadmap in front of us on how to achieve that, it is not going to get any easier, I am empathetic to those who have been impacted by the closure of our most major market, not only that but 90% of our low value products went to that mill.
So I think all Nova Scotians should take a pause and recognize what they have gone through and that they are willing to change they just need to be part of that change and I think we are making progress and we will make more progress this year.
MG: Does it remain your position that the lease that Westfor operates with will continue to be extended on a year to year basis until the Management Guide is approved and in place?
IR: Yes, that will be renewed for another year while we continue to work through to be sure the recommendations are advanced more.
MG: Before we were dealing with the pandemic, the schedule for all of this had said that Prof Lahey would be doing what amounted to a check-in review on progress by your department by the end of the fiscal year. Did that happen and if it did what can you tell me about the Professor’s findings?
IR: He has not completed that, we have been sending him our tracking sheet to show where we have made progress..we thought we would have had it by now, I guess it’s a question that should be posed to him but I expect we will be getting it soon.
MG: Finally, minister, we are about a little less than a week away from the 2-year anniversary of when the report was released…how would you evaluate the progress your department has made since then, and what is a reasonable expectation for the public in terms of when they might start seeing some measurable progress on some of the larger goals in this report?
IR: The progress has been significant when you look at the resources that have been put into the project teams and the fact that most recommendations are advancing out of the 45…we are seeing a lot more long-lived shade-tolerant species being left on the ground which is a cost to government and to industry, they have had challenges around that, they not as vocal as the side that wants to see no clearcutting.
But I think on balance, given the externalities of Covid19, the market disruption of Northern Pulp, Ecological Forestry is still being adopted, and I think we are doing a good job of that.