Rankin calls Nova Scotia election, two forestry Guides released the day before but no Progress Report from Lahey 19Jul2021

UPDATE. No Progress Report coming from Lahey anytime soon: “William Lahey, the report’s author, was expected to submit a progress report this spring, but he recently told CBC News the work is not yet complete.” – CBC July 21, 2021 [The Progress Report on L&F’s implementation of the Lahey Recommendations was originally scheduled for early 2020, later by end of June 2021 – see below]

The election call by Premier Rankin on July 17 was hardly a surprise nor was the  rash of spending announcements made in  News Releases on July 15 and 16th.

Amongst those News Releases are two related to forestry:

Province Releases Key Guides as Part of Ecological Forestry Implementation
News Release Lands and Forestry July 16, 2021

Northern Pulp Effluent Treatment Plant Project to Undergo Class II Environmental Assessment
News Release  Environment and Climate Change
July 15, 2021

Advisedly, I suspect, the NP announcement  is minimal. However, there are some signals suggesting which side the Rankin folks are trying most to please: on June 28, it was announced that Nova Scotia will spend $6.1 M to establish a New Centre of Forest Innovation at NSCC; heavily involved on the forestry side are Forestry NS folks who successfully got Rankin to backtrack on the Biodiversity Act – and are pushing hard to get the NP mill back (CH Jul 17, 2021).

Road widening on Bowater-SMB Forestry lands July 11, 2021.

There are some bones for the Ecological Folks in the form of new Protected Areas announcements, but for the Ingram River Wilderness Area (on the old Bowater-St. Margaret’s Bay lands), it is for only 5000 acres, not the 15000 acres sought (CBC July 15, 2021) by many in Rankin’s home territory. Big Forestry continues to carry the day on the Bowater-Mersey  lands purchased by the Crown after a citizens-initiated “Buy Back the Mersey Campaign“.


The Key Guides News  Release has lots of feel-good messages in it.

The second of the “guides” is not a guide but a Report, “the High Production Forestry Phase 1 Final Report, which outlines criteria that will be used to identify, rank and select high-production forestry zones. Crown lands approved for high-production forests will produce high-value forest products in long-term cycles while allowing a larger proportion of public land to be managed for ecological objectives.”

These guides are not  quick reads. But I looked for the latest on a few key concerns – nutrient budgeting in the silvicultural guide; and in the HPF document, details of site selection and any mention of the wood supply model and of carbon accounting.

On the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix

The new silvicultural guide “will come into effect after the department trains forest professionals so they can better understand and apply the guide and its requirement”. In the meantime, Rankin has made it clear there will be no moratorium on clearcutting/even-aged management.

As I feared would the case in regard to the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix, the nutrient budget model (p. 18) makes no provision for recovery of nutrients on the highly depleted soils that cover more 60% of the province. We are accepting, apparently, a permanently degraded forest* even  in the Ecological Matrix.
*A result of acid rain on the inherently poor soils that dominate the province, exacerbated by clearcutting – view Calcium Depletion)

On the HPF document

    • No sites have been selected yet for high-production forests. Detailed site assessments and the selection process must still take place.” And still , there  have been no stakeholder and public consultations on or any details released about,  the  Environmental Assessment process and the Old Forest Policy;  those aspects are critical to addressing concerns of the public at large about forestry in NS.
  • A Wood Supply analysis model is cited showing implications of including different proportions of “suitable sites” in the HPF component of the Triad. This caught my eye:

When less area is being allocated, short-term impacts can be partially offset by choosing higher volume stands for conversion.

I am guessing that the high volume stands mowed down since the Lahey report was released 3 years ago  will not be amongst the sites finally chosen for HPF.

Notably missing from what we are told about this wood supply analysis are any assumptions or modelling related to the wood supply from the Ecological Matrix.

An analysis of forest carbon dynamics related to a subset of modelled wood supply scenarios showed several key trends (see Appendix D for carbon modelling details). Carbon stored in living tree biomass tended to increase or remain relatively stable during the 100-year simulation (Figure 8). Total storage was generally between 13 and 14 million tonnes (t) with 100% allocation of potential HPF land, decreasing to approximately 10 million tonnes and 6.5 million tonnes with 75% and 50% land allocations. However, after HPF conversion all scenarios showed a relatively consistent per hectare carbon storage rate, ranging between 50 and 55 t/ha Figure 8).

Wow. Selecting 100% of the desired sites for HPF will give us the maximum carbon sequestration!!!! (It’s not hard to  see where this rationale is leading.) It’s the now old book-keeping trick used by Big Forestry and the Feds of projecting carbon emissions over 100 years, not over the next, 10, 25, 50 years when we really need to reduce carbon emission and when those same models undoubtedly show large increases –  especially for NS if they “offset short-term impacts…by choosing higher volume stands for conversion.”

And it’s pretty likely that the 100 year models do not take into account site degradation following clearcutting. As I and many others have repeatedly stressed, for credibility, GHG accounting needs to be conducted independently, rigorously and with full transparency.

Where is the elusive Lahey Progress Report?

Last but not least, I have to ask what about the Lahey Progress Report, now overdue by a year and a half.

Last we heard (Apr 14, 2021) via CBC News:

Lands and Forestry Minister Chuck Porter said during budget debate on Tuesday at the legislature that University of King’s College president Bill Lahey will provide an update to his department this month and have a finalized review complete for public release about two months later.

So where is it folks?

That’s a good question for Mr. Rankin, and perhaps Mr. Lahey himself.


Some related news items, NSFN posts

Finding the Mother Tree: ecologist Suzanne Simard offers solutions to B.C.’s forest woes
By Matt Simmons in The Narwhal Jul 17, 2021:  Says Simard: “…we need [NDP Premier] Horgan to stand behind them, to make these changes. Either we do partial cutting but we spread it over a bigger landscape or we do more concentrated clearcutting, which people don’t like and isn’t good for the forest. We need to make those two things happen at the same time: reduce the cut and save the old-growth forest and reforest what we do cut right away, but leave these old trees.”

Struggles over forestry: the same script & same characters, only different actors and staging in Nova Scotia, B.C. & Europe 6Jul2021
Post on NSFN, July 6, 2021

“Finding the Mother Tree” – can it change the way we manage our forests in Nova Scotia? 9May2021?
Post on NSFN, May 9, 2021

Individual Tree Selection the major prescription type in latest Nova Scotia Crown land harvest plan 15Jul2021
Post on NSFN, July 15, 2021 “In the latest announcement, the percentage of the land area identified for Individual Tree Selection (All Age Management) jumped from generally 0% and consistently less than 10% to 55%” – pre-election spin?

Nova Scotia election looming & concerns about wood supply from Crown lands, the Lahey Progress Report, promised consultations, carbon sequestration and “low value wood” 9July2021
Post on NSFN, July 9, 2021

Marcus Zwicker: Managed forests sequester more carbon than unmanaged forests
Post on NSFN, February 20, 2019

Are Protected Areas an Effective Way to Help Mitigate Climate Change? A Comparative Carbon Sequestration Model for Protected Areas and Forestry Management in Nova Scotia, Canada
By Robert Cameron and Peter Bush, 2016. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies 11: 2329-1621. ABSTRACT Abstract: Protected areas have been proposed as a tool for mitigating climate change through carbon storage and sequestration. A C forest model was developed using carbon yield curves from the US Forest Service. The model was run on existing protected areas comprising 514,000 ha and 245,000 ha of proposed protected areas in Nova Scotia, Canada under three scenarios: 1. complete protected status; 2. forestry management which maximized timber yield; and 3. forestry management with environmental considerations. The model suggested 112 million tonnes of C is stored in existing and proposed protected areas and if protected these forests would sequester C over the next 130 years. If the proposed and existing protected areas were managed for forestry they would become a C source for the next 130 years for both maximum yield and forestry management with environmental considerations scenarios. There was a decrease of about 2 percent and 11 percent in total amount of C stored for forestry management with environmental considerations and maximum yield scenarios respectively. Frequent disturbance from clear-cut harvesting likely increases decomposition of organic matter in the forest which exceeds C sequestration by regrowth. The greatest advantage of protected areas is the greater certainty in land use and in maintaining the current and future C store.

Finally, word of a Progress Report from Prof. Lahey on Nova Scotia’s effort to shift to ecological forestry 14Apr2021
Post on NSFN, April 14, 2021 “The report was scheduled initially for spring of 2020; one might say ‘Better Late than Never’, but in this case that will depend very much on the content of Prof. Lahey’s Progress Report and on whether Forest NS and allies are able to thwart any action on what they don’t like about it.”

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