Comments on the draft Nova Scotia Old Growth Forest Policy: Nina Newington from tent in storm 7Dec2021

Received from Nina Newington in an e-mail dated 5.40 a.m. Dec 7, 2021 (bolding inserted):

Done in haste from tent in storm but done…

Old Growth Forest Policy Comment by Nina Newington

Little time was allowed for comment on this important policy so this will be brief.

The protection and restoration of ecosystem health needs, in William Lahey’s phrase, to be the overarching priority guiding policy in relation to our forests. This OGF policy falls short.

The goal of protecting biodiversity, present in the 2012 OFP, has gone missing from this version and needs to be restored.

The protection and restoration of High Conservation value forests is vital. These are the very forests the forestry industry is liquidating across crown land, especially in SW Nova Scotia where most of the remaining ones are to be found. The Old Growth Forest Policy should be the tool to arrest that ecological destruction. Instead it plays games with making it harder, not easier to classify stands as old growth.

The bait and switch game of classifying 40 year old forests in protected areas as part of the 8% quota of OGF, thereby freeing companies to log old forests in crown land, is revealing. Such a lack of integrity and transparency on the part of DNRR suggests that, in order to truly protect and restore OGF forests, this file should be handed over to the Department of Environment and Climate Change to manage.

Once the goal is understood to be the protection and restoration of biodiversity, a number of positive directions for this policy become clear.

Classify all forests over 100 years in age as OGF. Forest resource inventories suggest that only 1 to 5% of Forests in NS meet this threshold. In pre-settlement times estimates are that 40-50% of forests would have been older than 100. In order to return to ecological health — a good indicator would be the recovery of populations of forest dependent wildlife such as the endangered American marten — our target should be for at least 20-25% of the forest to be over the age of 100.

From a post on Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia Dec 4, 2021. “Forest Protectors are camped out NOW- in December by the side of a logging road, protesting the cut that is scheduled to happen any day now in a forest that Bowater-Mersey spared twenty year ago because of its high value to wildlife.
This spot near Beal’s Brook, west of Hwy 10 in Annapolis County is the site of the historic Last Hope moose hunting camp. A hundred years ago, when game was already scarce elsewhere, people came here to hunt moose to feed their families. Now the mainland Moose is on the verge of extinction in Nova Scotia….”

In sum, as we shift focus from the needs of one industry to the survival requirements of our and other species, the old policy games must fall away, to be replaced by a clear and determined commitment to the restoration of ecological health in Nova Scotia’s severely degraded forests. In order to achieve this, please shift responsibility for this policy to the appropriate department —ECC not NRR.

Forests on crown land should be inventoried and classified promptly. Forests over 100 years in age on Crown land should immediately be placed under consideration for protection, stopping any harvesting, road building and development activity right away.

Forests of high conservation value, whether or not they meet the age threshold of 100 years, should also be considered for protection.

The fact that old forest stands have been scarred by some more recent logging activity should not preclude them from classification as OGF. Again we should be using the precautionary principle to restore ecological health as quickly as possible, not attempting to whittle down the area of forest covered by OGF. With increased stand disturbance and pressure from invasives, our forests are going to need all the help they can get to recover health in the face of new pressures resulting from climate change.

Nina Newington, Mount Hanley, NS

A little about about NN and the Women of Annapolis Co.

Nina Newington, who I often cite  as “NN”* is one of many wonderful women in Annapolis Co., beginning in recent times  with Donna Crossland (co-author with Bob Bancroft of the Natural Resources Strategy document Restoring the Health of Nova Scotia’s Forests), who have been outspoken and have spoken eloquently about the excesses of forestry in NS, the precarious state of our forests’ natural inhabitants and offering clear steps that we need to take to begin to recover the gift of the Wabanaki forest that greeted the first European settlers in Mi’kmaki. Some of the others cited  on NSFN: Bev Wigney, Sue Skipton, Olga Comeau; and Shalan Joudry whose ancestors greeted them.  There are lots more.
*I often use initials of people when I cite their discussions on publicly available social media as I may not have asked specific permission to cite them (but they are public docs), also so we focus on the  the logic of the debates rather than the messengers  when we are debating issues. Nina seems OK with it or I would definitely have heard!

No wonder, Annapolis Co. has been especially hard hit by the WestFor harvesting on  county’s abundant Crown lands.

The first time I met NN  was at the XR Rebellion -Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia  campout at the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest in June of 2019, I think the first such public, direct action  protest over forestry  in recent years.  The concern was the cutting down of Old Growth forest… it attracted attention and  skilled naturalists went in there and identified presence of several Species-at-Risk. It has all of the features of OG, but still, L&F, said it was not* and under Iain Rankin, drew a line in the sand– that remains, as far as I know.
*I have been to the site, seen the Pit and Mound topography there, and trees with  girth similar to trees I have studied at Sandy Lake that in 2017 were in the range 134 to 141 years of age… so I have a strong suspicion that L&F’s rejection of it as Old Growth relates to the issues I discuss in a recent post

Expressing anguish, NN lay down on the sidewalk, followed by others, in the final moments in the demonstration at NRR on Nov 22, 2021).

Flash forward a bit, and it was Nina Newington who raised the alarm about the logging in Mainland Moose country in the fall of 2020, and initiated a close to two month campout there and all that followed…including days in court.  Nina regularly comes into Halifax and speaks at forest-related gatherings, most recently, the Mainland Moose demonstration outside of the NRR offices on Hollis Street.

This piece she wrote from her home territory in Annapolis County, at the campout where  “a group of supporters are highlighting the planned cut of about 24 hectares in an area situated almost evenly between Roxbury and Albany, not far from Highway 10 in Annapolis County.” (CBC Dec 3, 2021).

I don’t know how she does it. She’s not a youngster. But I do know this, She is doing God’s work. That’s an expression the onetime chair of the Dalhousie Biology Department where I spent 38 years, the late Bill Freedman, a consummate environmentalist,  would say to me when I got worn down.  “It’s OK, Dave”, he would say, “you are doing God’s work”.  Indeed she is. Thank you NN and all of those wonderful women of Annapolis Co.

True disclosure: My late Mom’s family were Annapolis Co. folk. My great Grandad on my Mom’s side was the last resident of Roxbury, an abandoned forestry town  just a bit south from where the campout is occurring; I have walked there a few times, once taking Bill Freedman with me. G’Dad went there in his final years  to get away from it all, lived as a hermit – initially there was also a Norwegian  family homesteading there, and then they left.  My Mom and Aunt as children would ski in to take him milk and eggs during the winter  months.

The women were the strong and the wise ones. They still are.

Sound of Silence at Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest. June 15, 2019


Previous posts related to the draft Nova Scotia Old Growth Forest Policy released Nov 9, 2021

Nov 9, 2021: Movement on implementing Lahey: public consultation on Nova Scotia’s “Old-Growth Forest Policy” announced 9 Nov2021

Nov 15, 2021: Nova Scotia NRR: “DYK the Old Forest Policy protects the oldest tree in the Maritimes?” 15Nov2021

Dec 1, 2021: The draft Nova Scotia Old Growth Forest Policy is weak on conservation of old forest species 1Dec2021

Dec 5, 2021: Comment 2 on the draft Nova Scotia Old Growth Forest Policy: on the significance of historic blowdowns and Pit and Mound topography 5Dec2021

Dec 6, 2021: On the draft Nova Scotia Old Growth Forest Policy: Some of what others are saying 6Dec2021

Also highly relevant: Prof. Lahey’s Independent Evaluation of the Implementation of the 2018 Forest Practices Report for Nova Scotia released 30Nov2021


This entry was posted in Citizen Science, Conservation, Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes, Ind Rev Post-Report, Indigenous Peoples, Mi'kmaq, New PC Government, Old Growth, Parks & Protected Areas, WestFor and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.