Nova Scotia election looming & concerns about wood supply from Crown lands, the Lahey Progress Report, promised consultations, carbon sequestration and “low value wood” 9July2021

A “Retired biologist concerned about province’s ecological forestry” was interviewed on CBC’s Information Morning today.

Making it easier for trucks to get into the woods in Nova Scotia doesn’t sound like ecological forestry to David Patriquin. The retired biologist says Nova Scotia will have to reduce the volume of wood coming from its forests if we are going to succeed with ecological forestry in this province.

An abbreviated transcript of the interview follows:

CBC: Earlier this week the province announced that it is investing more than 5 millions dollars in ecological forestry…David Patriquin has been following forestry issues in Nova Scotia for decades…he also runs a blog called Nova Scotia Forest Notes.

On new forestry roads and the wood supply from crown lands

CBC: Part of this money, 1.4 million dollars of it will go toward improving forestry roads on Crown land and private Land, what are your thoughts about that?

dp: The roads raise a lot of concerns with me…

CBC: Why?

dp: Basically because we don’t know the government’s intention and in particular what their goals are for the wood supply from Crown lands. If they want to maintain the wood supply they will have to build more roads and cover a lot more areas which means a lot more disturbance and a lot more fragmentation.

The basic issue is that Lahey and Co. when they made their report said they expected there would be a decline in wood supply during the transition to ecological management. But in Rankin’s first comment on the report as Minister, he said they didn’t accept there would be a reduction in wood supply, they believed they could sustainable grow the industry. So that’s the problem and the information about the wood supply model is not being shared with the public.

CBC: So, there is less clearcutting under ecological forestry models that ask for some reduction or to be done differently, but if the wood supply is to be maintained at the same levels there will be more partial harvests and that will affect more forest and that’s why more roads have to be built?

dp: That’s right, that’s the concern, and look there will still be a lot of clearcutting and it’s  going to be actually on the best forestry land. So this whole thing is a compromise and one part of the compromise that the government and what I call Big Forestry hasn’t accepted is that there would be a reduction in wood supply for a period while it makes a transition to more ecologically productive forestry.

CBC: So you see the investment in forestry roads as a sign that they still want to maintain the same amount of forestry happening… and that remains to be clarified.


On Prof. Lahey’s Progress Report and what we need to see in relation to implementation of the Lahey recommendations

CBC:  And so as we get a little closer to Lahey being implemented – a commitment from the government to happen by the end of 2021 – what do you think has been omitted or what will you be especially looking for in the next steps to actually realizing what Bill Lahey recommended?

dp: Well the first thing I really want to see is the Progress Report which was originally scheduled for early 2020, more recently we were told, I think, it would be out by the end of June, and we still haven’t seen it.

When the Lahey report was first tabled, there was a pretty good reaction to it from the more ecological community which is what I am coming from. But with no moratoriums and all of the rest of it there has been a loss of trust and the way I see it the only person who can really salvage that is Lahey and the Progress Report. So that’s #1.

#2 there is a lot of public consultation promised, and my concern is that they are going to ram this thing through without having proper consultation.

I also have concerns about carbon sequestration, again that relates to the models they use for wood supply, we need to know the implications of various management options are for carbon sequestration.

On “low value wood”

Map illustrating nutrient depleted soils in NS. The basic patterns have been known since the early 2000s,  now well documented by Kevin Keys & Co. (2016)

And I am concerned about the pressure that we are starting to see to reignite Northern Pulp, people saying that this silviculture funding is really nothing, what we need is a market for low value wood. And that’s a problem, there is a big conflict there, because the concept of low value wood is a kind of oxymoron when we are talking about ecological forestry, especially in NS where by the government’s own analysis, 65% of our landscape has really poor land for forestry so most of that low value wood should stay in the woods.

CBC:  So your concern is that operations like NP which relied on low value wood low value wood had that kind of wood being logged when it should stay in the woods?

dp: It should stay in the woods. That’s a basic conflict between Industrial Forestry and Ecological Forestry and we see it in all areas. From an industrial point of view, you harvest everything, you use everything, we get profits from everything, it all sounds very good, but ecologically and especially in NS where we have these very poor soils, that’s very hard on the lands.

CBC: If you say the low value wood should stay in the woods, that’s going to create a lot of difficulty isn’t it for the people who rely on that to keep their operations going?

dp: Well, that’s the problem. These are pressures that we need to acknowledge and to discuss and be open about. My main thing is that we need open, honest discussions about these things.

CBC: And 3 years on would you expect Lahey’s Progress Report to say it has been taking too long?

dp: I don’t know. I think we really need to see it. I am a bit worried that if an election is called soon it won’t be released because it is considered political but then if it is not released, I also see that as political. So in my mind, we really need to see the report.

CBC: The clock is certainly ticking on the election call. David thanks very much for bringing your perspective to this.


Some related news items, posts

Province Continues to Invest In Ecological Forestry, Skilled Forestry Workers
News release July 5, 2021 from Nova Scotia Premier’s Office/Lands and Forestry. “The province is investing $5.4 million to help keep skilled Nova Scotians working in the woods while supporting the shift to ecological forestry.” CBC report: Nova Scotia to spend $5.4M to encourage sustainable forestry practices

Nova Scotia gets mixed reviews on forestry funding
Aaron Beswick for Saltwire (subscription required) July 5, 2021 “Government can throw as much money as they want into all this stuff, it’s great, but if government soon doesn’t wake up and get us a market for low-quality wood, everybody is going to be in trouble,” said Millet, who along with two employees runs a processor, forwarder and log truck.”

Nova Scotia vows to reduce clear cutting, move toward ‘ecological forestry’
Michael Gorman · CBC News Dec 3, 2018 “The government released its response to the Lahey review on forestry practices Monday”

Evaluation of the Implementation of the Ecological Forestry Model
2019-12-12 document cited on L&F Ecological Forestry webpage, essentially a Terms of Reference doc.

Bev Wigney On Forest Roads in Nova Scotia 29May2019
Post on NSFN May 29, 2019

Why is the low base saturation/soil acidification/nutrient depletion/extreme surface water acidity in SW Nova Scotia still ignored in Crown land harvest decisions?
Post on NSFN Feb 3, 2019

Forest Nova Scotia’s “simple math” underscores key issue for success or failure of Government’s implementation of Lahey Recommendations: How much wood is to be taken from Crown lands? 22Jan 2021
Post on NSFN Jan 22, 2021. “But what stood out to me in Mr. Burgess’s [Todd Burgess, forestry outreach coordinator with Forest Nova Scotia] comments was this: because of an increase in partial harvesting, he said “We will need more acres/area to harvest each year to cut the same amount of wood“.”

Is High Production Forestry compatible with the Nova Scotia Premier’s commitment to carbon neutrality? 11Mar2021
Post on NSFN Mar 11, 2021

An assessment of Nova Scotia L&F’s progress in implementing Ecological Forestry in response to the Lahey Report, Part 3: The Project Muddle 8Sep2020
Post on NSFN Sep 8, 2020. View also Part 1(Aug 23, 2020) Part 2 (Aug 27, 2020)

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