Big Forestry versus the Nova Scotia Biodiversity Act, round II 16Mar2021

Ad thanking  supporters in campaign against the Biodiversity Act in the Masthead News Apr 1, 2021. “The fight isn’t over. The Halifax Activists won’t give up”

UPDATES:
Biodiversity Act passes at Province House, regulations still to come
Michael Gorman · CBC News Apr 14, 2021. “…The changes Rankin announced to the bill came in the face of a highly co-ordinated lobby effort bankrolled by industry lobbyists that attempted to pit landowners and environmentalists against each other. NDP forestry critic Lisa Roberts noted it was left to landowners, environmentalists and others who supported the bill in its original form to find a way to push back against the lobby effort…NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the changes the Liberals made to the bill, reducing it from 19 pages to seven, robbed it of its promise..urrill accused the Tories of buying into the lobby effort talking points, posturing for the sake of politics and being outdated and out of touch with the realities of climate change and the requirements to respond. Houston, meanwhile, shot back that his party was the only one willing to stand up for rural landowners and questioned the relevance of the NDP.”
Forest Nova Scotia & A Campaign of Fear (video)
On The Naturalist (YouTube Channel) Apr 12, 2021
Brad Toms appeal for a strong Biodiversity Act (Mar 30, 2021)
On Nova Scotia Species at Risk (Public Facebook page), or view here.
Migrant Songs Of Spring Article by Scott Leslie in current issue (April/May 2021) of Saltscapes, available as a sample. He describes with photos and text the “beautiful vagabonds” singing their songs as they rejoice in another Atlantic Spring, but are in turn challenged by the clearcutting – up to 160,000 now being destroyed each season.
Judge reserves decision in Owls Head matter
Michael Gorman · CBC News Apr 1, 2021. ” [Judge] Brothers reserved her decision. A spokesperson for Lighthouse Links said the company would await the outcome of the court process before submitting its consultation plan to the government for consideration.”
– News brief: Environmentalists and locals rally at Law Courts to defend pristine Owls Head from turning into golf courses and resort
Robert Devet in the Nova Scotia Advocate
Development debate moves to Supreme Court
Francis Campbell in the Chronicle Herald, Apr 1, 2021. Image on WWNS

Bruce Mackinnon in the CH Mar 31, 2021. Click on image for CH image

Nova Scotia premier defends extensive changes proposed for Biodiversity Act
The Canadian Press on Yahoo, Mar 29, 2021
Mar. 29, 2021 – Law Amendments Committee Proceedings (Video, 11 hr 50 min)
Nova Scotia Legislature. Also view Sound Off: What’s riding on the Biodiversity Act, CBC Video on Facebook, Mar 30, 2021. “Jean Laroche and Michael Gorman explain how this high-stakes piece of legislation has become a thorn for the Liberal government.”
Forestry lobby group continues to have voice on environmental advisory group
Jean Laroche · CBC News Mar 30, 2021 “NDP worried Forest Nova Scotia does not speak for all in forestry sector”
Forest Nova Scotia & the Mystery of the Big Pockets (video)
The Naturalist, Mar 29, 2021.
Fannin Wild Fears
Tom Miller in the Chronicle Herald, Mar 29, 2021. Image on WWNS “Jeff Bishop, Forest Nova Scotia’s executive director, was on CBC’s Information Morning last week choosing to “go to the ridiculous” by suggesting that you couldn’t harvest mushrooms or maple syrup under this act. We need reality, not the ridiculous in this matter. …I’ve been involved in Nova Scotia’s forest industry for 47 years, with 500 privately owned acres in active management. I take great pride and responsibility in our land ownership. If I have a piece of rarity or endangered species on our lands, I want to know about it so as to take the necessary steps to ensure its safety. This act will help me do that. I don’t want my economic activity to hurt my ecological activity. Both are of the utmost importance. We need truth-telling, not the “election was stolen”-style rhetoric we’ve seen to the south of us. It’s not just “Halifax activists” that are on board with a new and better way of doing things, but all Nova Scotians who feel that we need to do a better job of protecting our life-support system — of which biodiversity is key. ”

Circulating on Social Media, Mar 21, 2021. ‘Seems to be Interpreted differently by different ‘sides’

Well, that didn’t take long
Stephen Kimber in the Halifax Examiner, Mar 28, 2021. Subscription required. “From the smiling selfie of our future-facing face of generational change and environmental salvation to the big reveal only a mini-month later that the shiny new was just one more in a long line of old-style pols in the welcoming embrace of all the usual corporate interests.”
We need a Biodiversity Act with teeth, before it’s too late
By Marian Whitcomb in the Nova Scotia Advocate, Mar 28, 2021
– My letter to MODL regarding their support of the Concerned Landowners Coalition opposition to the Biodiversity Act
George Buranyi on WWNS, Mar 26,2021.
Statement in response to the Government of Nova Scotia’s plans to amend the Biodiversity Act prior to law amendments
Karen Beazley and others for Dalhousie School for Resource and Environmental Studies, in the Nova Scotia Advovate Mar 127, 2021
Voice of the People 
Chronicle Herald, Mar 27, 2021. Subscription required. Image on WWNS
Nova Scotia premier’s sudden changes to biodiversity bill invoking many strong feelings
Elizabeth McSheffrey Global News, Mar 24, 2021
Nova Scotia plans changes to Biodiversity Act less than 2 weeks after bill tabled
Michael Gorman · CBC News Mar 24, 2021.”Decision follows lobbying campaign by private landowners who warned of restricted access on private lands”
Ecology Action Centre responds to anti-Biodiversity Act ads (audio)
Info AM interview
“The most Trump-like thing” in Nova Scotia: how big forestry companies gutted the Biodiversity Act
Joan Baxter in the Halifax Examiner Mar 23, 2021.
Forest Nova Scotia & Damage Control(Video)
The Naturalist, Mar 22, 2021. About the origins of the Concerned Private Landowner Coalition
LISA MITCHELL: Nova Scotia’s new biodiversity bill is reasonable, not radical
In the Chronicle Herald, Mar 20, 2021 subscription required.

Conclusion
I have lived in rural Nova Scotia for much of my life, and I know that most Nova Scotian landowners act as stewards of the land and waters that support the biodiversity that they enjoy or in some cases draw their living from.
However, the numbers are unequivocal: the world is experiencing a global biodiversity crisis, and the crisis does not stop at the Nova Scotian border. It is our human actions that are causing the decline, and it will be our actions that will make a difference.
The proposed Biodiversity Act provides opportunities to enhance education, collaboration and tools that could facilitate biodiversity conservation in Nova Scotia. In light of the staggering trend of global biodiversity loss, we need this law in Nova Scotia to address the crisis effectively.
Passing Bill 4 will not cause the overnight creation of BMZs across the Nova Scotian landscape, nor will it allow the government to unilaterally restrict the activities of private property owners anywhere in the province. If passed, the proposed Biodiversity Act will give the government tools it needs to begin conversations and actions that are desperately needed to conserve biodiversity in Nova Scotia

Also view: Nova Scotia Needs a Biodiversity Act, Post Mar 17, 2020 by Lisa Mitchell (Executive Director and Senior Lawyer at ECELAW)
Sat, Mar 20, 2021 New Ads in the Chronicle Herald CPLC and Nature NS & others

UPDATES (continued)
The Lies of Forest Nova Scotia
The Naturalist (YouTube Channel), March 20, 2021
Biodiversity on your woodlot: Busting myths about the Biodiversity Act
Nature Nova Scotia Facebook page, set of graphics by Becky Parker, NatureNS coordinator, tree nerd and woodlotowner, Mar 19, 2021
stopbill4.com. New website registered March 16, 2021 by a proxy; website titled CPLC Concerned private Landowner Coalition.  “…[the] CPLC  was recently formed to defend the rights of Nova Scotia’s private landowners. The Government of Nova Scotia has just introduced a law, Bill 4 – to Conserve the Biodiversity of Nova Scotia. (Bill4). This Bill sounds like motherhood and apple pie. It is not. It is a real threat to Nova Scotia’s landowners….” Page provides form letters for woodlot owners: ” I don’t want activists on my property looking for certain plants and animals, declaring they must be protected and shutting down activity…” and visitors to private woodlots: “I’m from xxxxx and use a lot of private land to (hike, cycle, hunt, fish snowmobile and/or ATV). Landowners have been great…My fear is that Bill 4, will force my neighbours to restrict access to their land because this bill creates too big of a risk for them…” Lists supporters: Forest Nova Scotia, ARF Enterprises Ltd., Dean Produce Co-Op, Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association, Canadian Woodlands Forum, Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia, Cumberland Forestry Advisory Committee
Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners & Operators Association on Biodiversity Act (audio)
On CBC Info AM, Mar 18, 2021 “Not all private woodlot owners oppose the province’s new biodiversity legislation.”
Comment by small woodlot owner Mar 18, 2021
Thoughts on the Biodiversity Act
Andy Kekacs, Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association e-mail, Mar 18, 2021
Discussion on HFC Facebook post.
Post on Mar 17, 2021, discussion ongoing.
Myths about Nova Scotia’s new Biodiversity Act
Ecology Action Centre Video, Mar 17, 2021
Nova Scotia Needs a Biodiversity Act, post on www.ecelaw.ca Mar 17, 2021
Forest NS on why they oppose the new Biodiversity Act (Audio) on CBC Info AM, Mar 16, 2021
Beauty and richness of the nature in Southwest region of Nova Scotia versus clearcutting
Eko Raharjo with Sandra Phinney Facebook Video in response to controversy about the Biodiversity Act, Mar 16, 2021

———

Contributed

Original post
Biodiversity Act
BILL NO. 4  3rd Session, 63rd General Assembly Nova Scotia, First Reading: March 11, 2021

…AND WHEREAS Nova Scotia is committed to a complete, holistic, integrated legislative framework that provides for all aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;

THEREFORE be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

1 This Act may be cited as the Biodiversity Act.

2 The purpose of this Act is to provide for the stewardship, conservation, sustainable use and governance of biodiversity in the Province, as part of an integrated framework of legislation…

55 This Act has effect on and after October 1, 2021.

Reads the first paragraph in a CBC report (Mar 11, 2021):

Nova Scotia’s Lands and Forestry minister tabled a revised Biodiversity Act on Thursday, a version he hopes won’t raise the ire of private landowners this time around.

It didn’t take long for a response: on the same day, lawyer, woodlot owner, member  of Forest Nova Scotia and self-identified elder Nova Scotian S.I.Cole shot off a 10 page document to All MLAs of the NS legislature offering his studied opinion on the  “misguided, ill-conceived, draconian legislation”.

It begins with an explanation of why we need forest management to solve the climate crisis,  proceeds into an analysis of the Biodiversity Legislation as currently drafted and ends with a section on potential charter implications of the legislation.  “There are many compelling, substantive arguments that the legislation is not Charter compliant and therefore cannot survive Charter scrutiny” says Mr Cole, invoking  the Magna Carta in his arguments.

That was on Thursday. On Saturday, the full page ad depicted above appeared in the Chronicle Herald, courtesy of the “Concerned Private Landowner Coalition“, and Forest Nova Scotia sent out a message to all members to “call your MLA about the new Biodiversity Act – today!”

The assault on the Biodiversity Act has been noticed.

I received this comment from the Ecology Action Centre yesterday (Mar 15, 2021):

Biodiversity is in steep decline worldwide, including here in Nova Scotia. This year alone the World Wildlife Fund and several other international conservation and scientific organizations have released reports showing that over 50% of the worlds wildlife species have declined in the last 50 years and invasive species are spreading worldwide, endangering native species.

The Biodiversity Act is designed to provide tools to address this threat in a timely manner and also to begin collecting the necessary data and regular reporting on the State of Biodiversity in Nova Scotia.

It also provides a new, coordinated approach for the Province to engage in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity using an integrated set of laws centered on biodiversity and calls for collaboration, innovation, and pro-active approaches to working with civil society on an issue that affects us all.

It is NOT an attempt by government to take over private lands nor is it a “an attack on rural Nova Scotia” as is being promoted by the forestry industry lobby group. Government conducted several rounds of stakeholder consultations on the Act in 2018 and again in 2020 as well as a series of provincial public consultation meetings in 2019.

The accusation from the forestry industry that there was no consultations with stakeholders and the public is patently false. In that consultation the forestry industry asked for – and got – a clause that would allow for compensation in rare cases where an emergency biodiversity order might affect a private landowner and provides a mechanism for compensation where a financial loss occurs. Otherwise all participation by private landowners would be voluntary (i.e. opt in or opt out).

It is also important to note that like most acts of legislation, important details around implementation will be determined through the development of regulations in a public process which will allow all parties to be heard with respect to how the act is applied.

The fearmongering and hysteria being whipped up amongst private landowners by the forestry industry is overblown and without merit.

Nature Nova Scotia issued a more detailed response today and a response from East Coast Environmental Law is anticipated. UPDATE Mar 17, 2020: View Nova Scotia Needs a Biodiversity Act, post on www.ecelaw.ca

No comment yet from Premier Rankin.

Stay Tuned

From Round I

LIBERALS PLEDGE TO PRESERVE AND ENHANCE OUR ENVIRONMENT – AND MAINTAIN FRACKING MORATORIUM
NS Liberals Press Release, May 8, 2017. They promise to continue the the moratorium on fracking; to introduce a new Coastal Protection Act, a new Biodiversity Act, a new Biodiversity Council; and “a thorough and independent review of our current forestry practices. Until that review is complete, there will be no additional long-term timber harvesting leases issued for Crown Land.”

Nova Scotia DNR Biodiversity Council Members Appointed
Posted on June 4, 2018 by admin

EAC/ECELAW critique Nova Scotia L&F administered Biodiversity Act process 2Mar2019
Post on NSFN Mar 2, 2019

Lands and Forestry/Biodiversity

On March 14, 2019, the Minister of Lands and Forestry introduced an Act to Provide for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Nova Scotia in the legislature. The Biodiversity Council, established on May 22, 2018, helped craft this new legislation for the province that will enable Nova Scotia to improve the conservation and sustainable use of wild species and ecosystems in flexible and adaptive ways, address legislative gaps and manage emerging risks.
For additional information, you can find the proposed Act on the Nova Scotia Legislature website
For additional information, refer to the Biodiversity Council’s Terms of Reference.

Nova Scotia to become first province to regulate biodiversity
Michael Gorman · CBC News · Posted: Mar 14, 2019 “Bill aims to close gaps between Endangered Species Act, Wildlife Act and other legislation”.

Critic Fears Forestry Bill is Being Rushed
Six Rivers News, Apr 3, 2019 “The Conservative Lands and Forestry Critic is calling on the Liberal government to slow down on the Biodiversity Act and send it back to the department to ensure that it’s done right the first time.

Nova Scotia delays new biodiversity legislation, saying more work required
By Global News Apr 12, 2019

The Nova Scotia government is delaying an act that would give it more powers to protect biodiversity, including wild animals, plants and water species.

The Liberal government had planned to pass the bill this session, saying it lacked the authority or regulatory powers it needs to manage the province’s biodiversity.

However, Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin said Friday that the government recognizes the bill may require more work, and it’s being sent back to committee.

The legislation as written would have given the government broad scope to create regulations to help manage threats to rare ecosystems and better protect wildlife against invasive species.

Rankin says the bill will still pass during the current government’s mandate, but there will be more consultation with industry, private landowners and environmental groups.

Report says Nova Scotia not doing enough to protect biodiversity
Michael Gorman · CBC News · Posted: May 06, 2019

Biodiversity Act Consultation
July 17 to July 25. 2019

Don Wilson on Biodiversity in and for Nova Scotia 27July2019
Post on NSFN July 27, 2019

 Submission to the Biodiversity Act Consultation after reflecting on what transpired at the Caledonia session. By Bev Wigney (on Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology, Public Facebook Group), July 25, 2019.

JIM VIBERT: Mother Nature’s on the run in Nova Scotia
Jim Vibert in the Telegram Oct 2, 2020

This week’s UN summit is on biodiversity, or more accurately the alarming global depletion thereof.

During the 2017 election campaign, the McNeil Liberals promised Nova Scotians a law to conserve Nova Scotia’s biodiversity.

It’s more than a little telling that the Liberals alternate between environmental activists during election campaigns and environmental scofflaws once they’re safely in government.

But, true to their word, they brought in a bill in 2019 “to provide for an integrated framework of legislation that supports the stewardship, conservation, sustainable use and governance of biodiversity in the Province” — otherwise known as the Biodiversity Act.

The bill is mostly milquetoast and motherhood, but nevertheless a step in the right direction.

However, it stalled on its way to becoming a law when it bumped up against some vested interests and now it remains marooned on the legislature’s order paper, unpassed to this day.

Environmentalist furious and foresters frustrated NS Biodiversity Act still stalled
JEAN LAROCHE for CBC News Nov 3, 2020

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Comment received from small woodlot owner, Mar 18, 2021:

The Biodiversity Act mentions Crown Lands once and Private Lands nine times. We are being told that there are already acts in place to regulate L&F actions on Crown Land. If that is the case they should be playing a leading role in the development and implementation of “best practices” to be followed on Private Lands.

Based on the performance of the Dept. of L&F and WESTFOR in southwest NS they do not appear, to the general public, to be following these regulations (they seem to be interpreting them in a way that suggests they are doing no wrong, despite court rulings and opinions opposing this view). Hopefully the general public will appreciate that if they are homeowners their own activities will also be subject to this act.

I am not opposed to the spirit of the act, unfortunately there is little or no information or guide lines on how I can operate on my own woodlot in the future. At one time we were one of the few woodlots in Cumberland County that went through the FSC process, and clearly stated our belief in what is now referred to as Ecological Forestry in our management plan, sustainable management practices with a view to habitat protection and enhancement and species diversity (partial list of flora and fauna was provided to us, and we have added to this list).

With the introduction of the Act I am wondering if a baseline of data is available to the general public showing the current level of biodiversity in Nova Scotia? To date the Provincial Government has not demonstrated their own accountability for the existing Species at Risk Act or responsibilities under the Migratory Bird Act. Hopefully as we move forward their actions will provide a clearer vision and direction.

In all of this I believe that the small woodlot owners are the most likely group (within the LUMBER INDUSTRY) to support the spirit of the act. We need to know that there is a more work to be done. The act, in and of itself, is written in legal terms. This document, in some respects, could have been cut and pasted together using any number of other Acts. I am thinking specifically of the Special Places Protection Act and the Beaches Act. These acts need to be translated into policy statements and procedures manuals, written in everyday language that is readily understood by the general public.

At this point in time our activities on small rural woodlots are being judged in the same light as those undertaken by WESTFOR and Irving, who appear to operating under L&F oversight. IMOP the general public should be demanding that L&F show their accountability for their actions, and non- compliance with acts that they are responsible for. The Departments of L&F, Environment, Economic Development should be taking on a leadership role, and the implementation of the Lahey Report has to be accompanied by a state of the art plan establishing “Best Practices”.

 



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