Please, Prof. Lahey: issue your report on L&F’s progress in implementing your recommendations for Nova Scotia’s forests and forestry 2Sep 2021

There were likely downsides to the Liberals if Prof. Lahey’s “Progress Report” was  published just before the recent provincial election – it’s hard to see how Prof. Lahey could not be highly critical of progress under the Liberal Government in implementing his  recommendations of 2018.  The Progress Report wasn’t published and we are still waiting for it. It seems that now, however, there should be no downsides to the PC Government from such a report, indeed, they have held Prof Lahey in high esteem in the past and could be expected to take his recommendations seriously. There are big downsides, however,  if the Progress Report is further delayed – so Please, Prof. Lahey, issue your report!

UPDATE Sep 16, 2021: Is no news Good News? Tomorrow will mark 1 month since the PCs took the reigns of government in NS, and over two weeks since Tory Rushton was made Minister of the new Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. And Prof Lahey’s Progress Report has still not surfaced, nor any comment about it. ‘Not sure what that means, but it sure would be nice to see some update about the “Independent Review” and the Progress Report in particular.

This is a lengthy post, so I am providing a Table of Contents.

It is written as much ‘for the record’ at the beginning of the PC mandate, as it is with any expectation that it will be read in full, although I don’t mind saying I hope Minister Tory Rushton and Prof. Bill Lahey give it a glance at least.


Table of Contents

      • So we have had a major change in government in NS and, thankfully, IR who stalled on and reinterpreted the Lahey Recommendations is no longer in charge. I say that as one who voted Liberal in 2014 and 2017, the first time to see the end of Dexter who had backtracked on the Recommendations of the Natural Resources Strategy related to forestry, and in 2017 because the McNeil Government promised a thorough review of forestry including the science as applied by DNR. I did not vote for the Liberals  in 2021 because of their abysmal failures in regard to implementing the Lahey Recommendations.

        An abbreviated and likely biased history of the “Lahey Recommendations”

        Prof. Lahey took one year to do a thorough review of Forestry in NS and issued his report*  just over 3 years ago, on Aug 21, 2018. Neither ‘side’ got all it wanted or even most of what it wanted.  Lahey’s recommendations involved a compromise in the form of the Triad, with a portion of Crown land protected; a portion – in principle the largest portion – a matrix where ecological forestry is practiced’ and a portion in “High production Forestry”. While there was some resistance from the ‘ecological community’ to the Lahey Recommendations initially,  the principle of a compromise was appreciated and they soon became supporters of the ‘Lahey Report’.
        * An Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia: Executive Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations
        By William Lahey, 2018. 82 pages
        – – An Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia: Addendum

        It took Big Forestry a good deal longer to explicitly endorse the Lahey recommendations. I could be wrong, but I think there was no explicit endorsement from any of the Big Forestry organizations until after IR became Premier in 2021 and it was clear he was firmly in the Big Forestry camp. (Smaller scale, ecologically oriented forestry, as represented by NSWOOA and others, endorsed the Lahey Recommendations early on).

        There was no timeline in the Lahey Recommendations for implementing the recommendations, and it was not clear precisely how it would be implemented. This allowed a lot of delay on the part of DNR, now L&F, headed by IR as Minister, and it allowed a lot wiggle room in how the recommendations would be implemented.

        In the meantime and up until now, the status quo has prevailed with continued intensive clearcutting/even-aged management under the umbrella of ‘Variable Retention’ and ‘Shelterwood’ (L&F stopped using  the word “clearcut” with their initial response to the Lahey recommendations on Dec 3, 2018).

      • While it would have seemed logical to impose some sort of moratorium on clearcutting until the recommendations were implemented, IR as Minister and then as Premier was firm in his rejection of any moratorium.The Posts and News Items on this website provide a record of the many fumbles and poor PR by L&F following issuance of the Lahey Report in Aug of 2018; and of the increasing concerns of Nova Scotians about the state of forests and forestry in NS’ and overall about losses of biodiversity and increased carbon emissions/poor use of our forests to sequester carbon associated with forest management and use of forest products in NS.There was a broad expectation when the Lahey Report was issued that the Recommendations would be largely implemented within a year. However, it took until Dec 3, 2018 for an initial response from L&F to the Lahey Recommendations and close to a year to  really begin the process.From a post on June 24, 2019

        On May 30, 2019, an e-mail went out from Lands & Forestry to 150+ people inviting recipients to “Hold the Date for an Ecological Forestry Forum” to be held in Truro on Tuesday June 25, 2019, Place TBA.” Those invited are apparently “people who participated in the process to develop Lahey’s report” . View pp 6-11 in the Addendum to the Lahey Report for a list of participants.

        In the 10 months between the release of the Report on the Independent Review of Forestry Practices (Aug 21, 2018, often cited as the “Lahey Report”) and this first extended report from L&F on progress towards implementing the recommendations of the report, little has changed in the way forestry is practiced on Crown lands. That has hardly gone unnoticed. Over the past year, we have seen widespread expression of concern about climate change, destruction of forests for biomass energy, and species extinction globally and locally – the latter specifically in relation to forestry in NS, as recorded in posts and under In the News and Social Media Posts on this website.

        On the day that meeting was held – June 25, 2019, L&F issued an ‘ Ecological Forestry Implementation June 25, 2019 update” and a new webpage for the Forest Review at Wrote L&F:

        Project teams made up of department employees and external experts like scientists, researchers, academics and subject-matter experts are working on several key projects related to ecological forestry. These projects were identified as foundational priorities. The department is committed to engaging stakeholders and the public to gather their input on these projects.

        View the NSFN post of June 27, 2019 for more on that announcement.

        What’s happened since June 25, 2019

        Eight  “Priority Project Teams” were listed on the L&F ecological Forestry website on June 25, 2019. Following is a list of the Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation and the Next Steps and Timelines for each Project as presented on June 25, 2019 and as currently listed (Sep 1, 2021) on the L&F website; and comments.


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation
        • Draft revised FMG and PTA processJune 25, 2019: Next Steps and Timelines
        • Summer 2019: Select team members, including experts have, or will visit Maine, Quebec, and Western Nova Scotia to explore shelterwood and retention levels;
        • Prepare an initial draft of the revised FMG/PTA process for targeted stakeholder input
        • Fall 2019: Broader stakeholder engagement on draft FMG (including targeted stakeholder input)
        • End of 2019: Finalize the revised FMG that includes stakeholder input
        Current (Sep 1, 2021) Progress to date:
        • Team members, including external experts, visited Maine, Quebec, and Western Nova Scotia to explore shelterwood and retention levels in Summer 2019
        • Prepared an initial draft of the revised FMG/PTA process for targeted stakeholder input
        • Targeted stakeholder engagement on policy and proposed changes in Summer 2019
        • Targeted stakeholder consultation on revised draft in March 2020
        • Public consultation on the revised guide in Winter 2021
        • Completed the revised guide now called the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix (SGEM)
        A year and a half delayed, the finalized guide (July 2021) remains highly problematical from the perspective of many who understand and apply  Ecological Forestry and the related issues at the landscape level in NS


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation
        • Overall plan
        • Silviculture methods and strategy
        • Implementation
        June 25, 2019: Next Steps and Timelines
        • 2019: Finalize definition of HPF and develop draft selection criteria at the provincial scale forstakeholder feedback [Targeted (Summer/Fall 2019), Broad (Fall 2019/Winter 2020)]
        • Winter 2020: Final Report on Phase 1 deliverables
        Current (Sep 1, 2021) Progress to date:
        • Developed draft definition of High Production Forestry (HPF) and draft selection criteria at the provincial scale in Fall 2019 for stakeholder and public feedback
        • Public consultation via general release of Phase 1 Discussion paper in Winter 2020
        • Targeted stakeholder consultations held in-person and virtually in Spring 2020
        • Public release of HPF Phase 1 Final Report including site selection & ranking criteria in Summer 2021
        Not greatly behind schedule, but  the Big Questions remain: how much and what land is to be included in the HPF component of the Triad, and Who is going to pay for it? 
        View: – Finally, some numbers on the cost of High Production Forestry in Nova Scotia 1Aug2021
        Is High Production Forestry compatible with the Nova Scotia Premier’s commitment to carbon neutrality? 11Mar2021
        Shelly Hipson: Concerns about how Crown lands will be designated for High Production Forestry in Nova Scotia 11May 2020


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation (may not be limited to)
        • Draft foundational scientific paper to be shared amongst targeted reviewers
        • Final peer-reviewed foundational scientific paper will be posted online
        June 25, 2019:Next Steps and Timelines
        • Summer 2019: Continue collecting and coordinating information on Nova Scotia’s natural disturbance
        regime agents; Targeted stakeholder review of draft scientific paper
        • Fall 2019: Incorporate stakeholder input into scientific paper, and submit to a scientific journal (yet to
        be identified) for peer review and feedback;
        • Analyze and incorporate peer review feedback in scientific paper
        • December 2019: Complete scientific paper and submit to journal editor for final review and printing
        Current (Sep 1, 2021: Progress to date:
        •Collected and coordinated information on Nova Scotia’s natural disturbance regime agents in Summer 2019
        •Submitted to a scientific journal for peer review and feedback in Winter 2019
        •Completed scientific paper and submitted to journal editor for final review in Winter 2020
        •Paper is available online and published in the December issue of the journal, Environmental Reviews.
        A review of natural disturbances to inform implementation of ecological forestry in Nova Scotia, Canada (Anthony R. Taylor, David A. MacLean, Peter D. Neily, Bruce Stewart, Eugene Quigley, Sean P. Basquill, Celia K. Boone, Derek Gilby, Mark Pulsifer)
        •Developed methodologies for linking Nova Scotia’s natural disturbance regimes to the provincial Ecological Land Classification and their subsequent implementation in ecological forestry
        •Submitted this second paper to a scientific journal paper for peer review in Spring 2021
        Comments This project, under the direction, I guess of Dr. Anthony R.  Taylor, a scientist with Natural Resources Canada and a Professor at UNB,  appears to have been largely  on schedule. However there was a decided lack of consultation outside of the DNR/L&F Circle of Comfort.  The first, now published paper  although peer reviewed, is considered weak and even seriously flawed in several significant respects by some of the professionals who had raised concerns about DNR’s science in this area which was a factor leading to the Independent Review, and was a subject of the review itself. View 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

        OLD FOREST

        June 25, 2019 Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation (may not be limited to)
        • Updates to the Old Forest Policy
        • Identification of Pre-Treatment Assessment triggers, to revise existing criteria
        • Restoration pathway for the Forest Management Guide
        • Approaches to managing hardwood old forest
        June 25, 2019: Next Steps and Timelines
        • Fall 2019: Public education on old growth forests; Research to better understand and identify old
        growth conditions in non-traditional species; Work with the Forest Management Guide project team
        to incorporate the restoration pathway in the draft Forest Management Guide for stakeholder review
        • Winter 2020: Send draft pre-treatment assessment triggers for peer review
        • Spring 2020: Stakeholder engagement for area-based targets
        • Summer/Fall 2020: Stakeholder participation on other related topics
        • Winter 2020 (anticipated): Complete project
        Current (Sep 1, 2021): Progress to date:
        • Conducted researched to better understand and identify old growth conditions in non-traditional species in Fall 2019
        • Incorporated the restoration pathway in the revised Forest Management Guide
        • Identified at least 8% old forest for all eco-districts across Nova Scotia
        • Developed new data and tools to identify and assess old forest, and published Story Map: Old Growth Forests of Nova Scotia
        • Targeted stakeholder consultation on new Old Growth Forest Policy in 2020-2021
        There  has still been no stakeholder consultation on this topic, but  perhaps I am not one of the ‘targets’. The topic is of great interest and concern to many people in NS, and discussions around it could be very productive as well as giving people a sense of participation. I am particularly surprised this has not happened given that the  only expert cited  for the project is Prof Peter Duinker who has written and talked extensively about community involvement in decision-making.*  It seems an opportunity lost.   In the meantime, pieces of the project that have been drafted  have appeared in seminars by L&F personnel,  indicating that consultation outside of the L&F circle of comfort is an afterthought, if that; it is apparently assumed that such consultation is irrelevant to the content. * From Dalhousie Faculty of Management: “Dr. Duinker conducts policy research that focuses on long-term future options for managing rural and urban ecosystems. His public engagement research looks at the effectiveness of engagement processes. He is widely published on engagement processes for environmental protection and natural resources management in Canada.”


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation (may not be limited to)
        • Values and indicators for outcomes-based forest management on Crown land
        • Options of models for implementation of outcomes-based forest management
        June 25, 2019:Next Steps and Timelines
        • Summer 2019: Conduct a jurisdictional scan to identify best practices/options for implementation in Nova Scotia
        • Continue to develop values and indicators for stakeholder input in Spring/Summer 2020
        • Project to be completed by end of 2020, with implementation to follow
        Current (Sep 1, 2021): Progress to date:
        • Conducted a jurisdictional scan in Summer/Fall 2019 and built a network of experts from various jurisdictions over the course of 2020 to identify best practices/options for implementation in Nova Scotia
        • Developing a draft framework that includes principles, values, objectives, and indicators for stakeholder input
        Comment It appears there has been and will be no consultation outside of L&F’s Circle of Comfort. The public is not seen as a stakeholder


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation (
        • Collaboration with academic and other external experts on information not currently being tracked by Lands and Forestry
        • Engagement with interested parties on how best to present the information to be more accessible for the general public and to improve reporting transparency
        • Traditional M’ikmaq forest use
        June 25, 2019:  Next Steps and Timelines
        • Summer 2019: Identify external experts to participate on the project team, and opportunities for stakeholder and/or public participation
        Current (Sep 1, 2021): Progress to date:
        •Reviewed recommended actions in report, completed gap analysis
        Continuing to identify external sources of data found during gap analysis
        •Beginning the collection of data from internal and external sources
        Stakeholder and public consultation
        Comment: I have seen no notices related to “Stakeholder and/or public participation”; so at least 2 years behind schedule.


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation (may not be limited to)
        • Interested wood chip suppliers will have the opportunity to participate in the procurement process. Energy service providers will be required to acquire the appropriate wood supply primarily from local private sector woodlot sources.
        • Woodlot owners can become aware of opportunities by maintaining contact with local woodlot associations, cooperatives, and/or direct contact with energy service providers.
        June 25, 2019: Next Steps and Timelines
        • Spring/Summer 2019: Identify a selection of prospective buildings for Phase 1
        • Fall 2019: Tender a request for qualified suppliers for service providers for Phase 1
        • Phase 2: Future expansion based on lessons learned from Phase 1
        Current (Sep 1, 2021): Progress to date:
        •Awarded construction and operation contracts to service providers for Phase 1 sites
        •Identified a selection of prospective buildings in Spring/Summer 2019 for Phase 1
        •Issued a request for qualified suppliers in Fall 2019
        •Issued a request for proposals to pre-qualified vendors in Winter 2020
        •Phase 1 complete: 9 buildings (at 6 sites) including 2 district heat systems selected for conversion from oil to wood chip heating
        Comment: It seems that progress on a project of direct interest to Production Forestry under guise of reducing carbon emissions -but with  no related life cycle accounting – has gone according to schedule. View In 2020, strict standards and transparency are required for Nova Scotia’s forest chipping/bioenergy projects to be credible as “good for the environment” 11Feb2020


        June 25, 2019: Expected Areas of Stakeholder and/or Public Participation 
        • The project team will engage with external experts (Nova Scotia Species at Risk Working Group, Recovery Teams) and stakeholders for advice and input so issues and aspirations are consistently understood and considered
        • Some policies and procedures may require additional consultation with other provincial government
        departments, NGOs, recovery teams, and federal partners
        June 25, 2019: Next Steps and Timelines
        • Fall 2019: Invitations to be sent to for Recovery Action Forum
        • Winter 2019: Recovery Action Forums to be held
        Current (Sep 1, 2021): Progress to date:
        • Appointments for 12 recovery teams completed in Fall 2019
        • Work on revising policies began in Fall 2019
        • Completed new Critical Habitat Policy in September 2019
        • The project team held three SAR Recovery Action Forums in Winter 2020
        • Recovery plans completed for all remaining species that fall solely under provincial responsibility
        Comment: It has taken legal action to stimulate L&F to move on this file. View  Nova Scotia broke endangered species law, judge rules May 29, 2020 on Saltwire; How Nova Scotia naturalists forced the province to uphold its Endangered Species Act by Zack Metcalfe in the National Observer, June 22, 2020
        Project Added after June 25, 2019: Environmental Assessment

        Here is the only info available from L&F on this project (as currently posted on the webpage for Ecological Forestry):

        Environmental Assessment
        To develop a proposed regulatory framework, for government’s consideration, to review Crown land forest stewardship plans by applicable Crown forest agreement holders either as a Class II environmental Assessment (EA) under the Environment Act or in a process that is similar to the Class II process.

        Progress to date:
        • RFP issued in January 2020 to hire a consultant to develop a guide for the preparation of 20- year forest stewardship plans
        • NorthWinds Environmental Services engaged in April 2020 to develop draft guide
        • Working on identifying regulatory options
        Next Step:
        • complete draft guide
        • stakeholder consultation

        Comment: This EA process has flown well under the radar of most Nova Scotians. It will be used, presumably, to do a one time EA on 10 year FULA agreements, with the objective of reducing the bureaucratic burden on L&F from public consultations as they occur now, harvest by harvest. It has been very difficult to find anything more about it, but L&F has been talking about it with, and releasing draft materials to, its industrial partners.  View
        Draft Nova Scotia Forestry EA Process surfaces 21May2021
        Biodiversity Landscape Planning for Nova Scotia is being developed as part of the L&F Environmental Assessment Project 16Jun2020
        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

        Also new since June 25, 2019:

        Ministerial Advisory Committee
        This committee was announced on Oct 18, 2019

        Lands and Forestry Minister, Iain Rankin, has appointed a new advisory committee with 14 members from environmental non-government organizations, industry, the Mi’kmaq and academia…The committee will advise the minister on the policies and priorities related to implementing the model recommended in Prof. Lahey’s independent review of forestry practices.

        Members of that committee have been pretty tight lipped about its proceedings but I heard complaints that the members were not really being consulted, rather the sessions were information sessions with the info coming from L&F. A Freedom of Information request by the provincial NDP revealed significiant dis-satisfacton with the process by 7 of the 14 members who wrote directly to the Minister of L&F (IR) to request a moratorium on clearcutting on crown land -see Members of Minister’s Forestry Advisory Committee request clearcut moratorium, NS Advocate Deb 12, 2021

        Evaluation of the Implementation of the Ecological Forestry Model (the “Progress Report”)

        And finally, what is supposed to be the real topic of this post, Evaluation of the Implementation of the Ecological Forestry Model
        This Document, on the L&F website, is dated 2019-12-12. From the document:

        The Department of Lands and Forestry is adopting the model of ecological forestry as recommended in Bill Lahey’s Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia, and at the department’s request Professor Lahey has agreed to lead an evaluation of the Province’s implementation efforts.

        The evaluation will have two components:
        1) A one-year assessment of the Province’s progress;
        2) A longer-term framework to guide the preparation of on-going evaluations to assess progress towards achieving the ecological model of forestry management in Nova Scotia
        as envisioned in the Review.

        …Both reports will be public. Professor Lahey and his team are working to have their work completed in the spring of 2020.

        The report did not appear in the spring of 2020, or in the spring of 2021, or before the Liberals called an election- View Rankin calls Nova Scotia election, two forestry Guides released the day before but no Progress Report from Lahey 19Jul2021 (Post on NSFN, July 19, 2021).

        It is difficult to see how Prof Lahey might NOT have significant criticisms about the progress of L&F in implementing his recommendations. Thus one had to wonder whether the Liberals  some how or another managed to stall release of the Progress Report.

        Some reasons to expect the new PC Government to want to see and make use of the Progress Report

        Now we have a new government that has said it will implement the Lahey Recommendations.

        Surely there is no downside to this government from any criticisms that Prof Lahey might make – Iain Rankin was the Minister of Lands & Forestry when the Lahey Report was tabled and remained in charge up until he ran successfully for leadership of the Liberal party and then was again in charge as the Top Dog. So the PCs had nothing to do with it, IR, everything.

        I believe the PCs hold Prof Bill Lahey in high esteem. Lahey was Deputy Minister of Nova Scotia Environment under a PC Government in 2007 when EGSPA was passed.

        Notes ECELAW 2019, “Professor Lahey, speaking to the strengths of
        the statute indicated that one of the strengths was, “the fact that targets are embodied in law, and progress towards them must be accounted for annually by the minister”.

        And from the PC Platform Document:

        Our PC Party understands that a healthy environment contributes to a healthy economy and to our long-term prosperity. “Environment” and “economy” are not mutually exclusive.

        In 2007, it was a PC government that introduced the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act (“EGSPA”), an ambitious and unique piece of environmental legislation that made Nova Scotia a leader across Canada in its approach to the environment by improving government performance in promoting sustainable prosperity through the process of setting legislative goals and enhancing accountability. EGSPA set out more than twenty targets to help Nova Scotia become cleaner and more sustainable.

        EGSPA was recently discarded and watered down by the Liberals, with key components that would have brought Nova Scotia international pride and world-leading sustainability being removed.

        Your PC government recognizes that everyone must do their part in the fight against climate change. Aggressive legislation that establishes goals and measuring sticks is required to reclaim our position as leaders in protecting the environment. This can be done through local food initiatives, increasing land protection and ending a reliance on coal.

        The PC Platform document also praises the Doelle-Lahey report on Aquaculture, and the Independent Review report by Lahey…

        So I am hopeful that we will see the Professor Lahey’s report soon, and that Minister Tory Rushton will heed whatever new recommendations Prof Lahey has to make in regard to implementing his original recommendations.

        From the PC Platform Document (p. 116-117, bolding inserted):

        The province will implement the Independent Review of Forestry Practices (the “Lahey Report”).

        In opposition, our PC Caucus accepted the principles outlined in the Lahey Report. As government, we are committed to act on all recommendations of the Report and work towards finding a balance between industry and environment so that we can make our forestry a strong sector of our economy for generations.

        To date, with 45 recommendations, the government’s response has been slow to implement. We recognize the need for action.

        The triad model of ecological forestry has been generally accepted by stakeholders and needs government leadership for implementation. It suggests many checks and balances within government, along with peer monitoring of the Department of Lands and Forestry, to re-establish the trust of the stakeholders in the government and its commitment to our forestry sector.

        Recognizing competing interests and listening to stakeholders is key to the future of forestry, while understanding the social and economic benefits is also essential. This can only be accomplished by willing parties getting together with future leaders of the province to establish a new roadmap.


        Please, Prof. Lahey, issue your report!
        In principle, at least, all that’s lacking at this point to finally implement the Lahey Recommendations effectively and fairly – and hopefully re-establish the good will that existed broadly amongst the public when the Lahey Report was issued in 2018 but has largely been lost in the interim – is Prof. Lahey’s Progress Report; followed by PC Government’s actions on the original recommendations and heed of whatever is to be learned from the Progress Report.

        There is a big downside if Prof Lahey’s Progress Report is further delayed, which is that the PCs could just continue on the track set by the Liberals, one that disproportionately balances the scale in favour of Big Forestry over the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity.
        So Please, Prof Lahey,  issue your Progress Report!

        “In other words, I have concluded that protecting ecosystems and biodiversity should not be balanced against other objectives and values as if they were of equal weight or importance to those other objectives or values. Instead, protecting and enhancing ecosystems should be the objective (the outcome) of how we balance environmental, social, and economic objectives and values in practising forestry in Nova Scotia.”William Lahey, Aug 2018

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