Bill Lahey on Rick Howe Show comments on where we are with his recommendations 24Feb2021

From News 95.7:  “The Rick Howe Show with Jordi Morgan – Monday, February 22, 2021 Iain Rankin has vowed to bring the Lahey report into action this year. We talk about it with author of the report Bill Lahey.”

An Abbreviated Transcript* follows:

Jordi Morgan: Iain Rankin was the Minister of Lands and Forestry and said at the time he was in favour of fully implementing the Lahey Report….written by William Lahey… WL joins us this am.

JM: …Has it been a little disheartening to you that the recommendations.. have yet to be implemented?

WL: I would describe it as discouraging. There has been much good policy and planning work that has been done but we are past the point and we should be seeing actual changes on the landscape in how forestry is conducted particularly on Crown land. I am enthusiastic that the Premier designate made it a high profile part of his platform and I am encouraged and excited by the prospect now of action starting at a much faster pace.

JM: …what are most important things that the province needs to address as this rolls out?

WL: …it’s very very important that the province takes actions that show it really does embrace the new proposed paradigm which I called ecological forestry and that means being serious about putting the health of ecosystems and biodiversity first and then figuring out how we do forestry in a way that reflects that priority

More specifically [we need to see] the fulsome adoption on Crown land of the Triad, a systems of forest land management that essentially zones the forest into three zones….a conservation zone made up mostly of wilderness areas, also parks and nature reserves; a zone reserved for growing and harvesting trees in highly efficient and productive ways subject to some important environmental limitations and regulations; and then the vast majority of the landscape reserved as much as possible for ecological forestry which is forestry that uses the alternative to clearcutting… The majority of the landscape is managed for a combination of conservation and production objectives whereas the other two legs are either exclusively for conservation or primarily for production.

So the province has the authority to implement that system on its own lands and I think that’s the most important thing it can do and do quickly to show that it is very very serious about implementing all of the report and its many more specific recommendations.

JM: ... It’s been delayed about 2 and half years there is a lot of consternation that we hear from people about the condition of our forests…over that period of time are you aware of how our forest has deteriorated is it a steady state, what is the situation as it exists now I terms of what those recommendations were supposed to remedy?

WL: I haven’t done an independent analysis since I finished my recommendations… but I concluded pretty unequivocally then that while we have many parts of our forests that are healthy and thriving, that overall our forests are not in a good condition and are in a deteriorating condition and that is likely to be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.

I tried to convey the urgency of action two and a half years ago, so although I am not in a position to say that what happened since has greatly increased the serious condition of forestry, I share the concerns of many that we are not heading in the right direction..until we implement a model of forestry along the lines of what I have recommended and all further delay just increases the urgency for action.

JM: I read a very impassioned op-ed in the Chronicle Herald a couple of weeks ago about somebody who is in the forestry industry saying that they feel that NS foresters use good practices, that they see themselves as strong stewards of our forests, so I guess the question is, is it a matter of policy or practice that has resulted in this deterioration of our forests?

WL: I don’t question the motivation of people working in forestry and I do believe that overwhelmingly the majority of people involved try to conduct forestry responsibly, but I think fundamentally we are using an approach to forestry which is high reliance on clearcutting that is just contrary to the health of the kinds of forests we have in NS, which are not single species softwood forests, overwhelmingly they are mixed multi-aged species and clearcutting unavoidably damages those forests no matter how careful we are about using that approach to forestry.

To get directly to your question, we need a fundamental change in practices, but for that to occur in particular on Crown land, we need changes in policy and we need to plan forestry differently.

One of the primary recommendations I made was an Environmental Assessment type process that would include participation of the public so we are not left as citizens of Nova Scotia to question this or that harvesting decision in this or that location, we have the opportunity to talk about how forestry is going to be conducted over a period of time over a large part of the landscape.

The other thing I want to emphasize… I made many recommendations about private land, all helping private landowners to be responsible stewards of their forest lands and to conduct forestry in a responsible way. While I think it’s important for the government to act quickly on the Crown lands…they must at the same time start to implement the recommendations that are meant to support private landowners who want to conduct forestry in a responsible way.

J. Thanks…

& Thx to 95.7 for this piece and more generally for encouraging and facilitating Nova Scotians to talk to each other about controversial issues – and to listen too.
* I 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.

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