|At the very least, soil samples should be taken at AP068499 Beals Meadow (and other sites on depleted soils the Ecological Matrix being considered for harvest) to assess the current state of the soils… If there are no signs of recovery from the depleted state of the soils in the area of AP068499 Beals Meadow, that in combination with extensive clearcutting in the past followed by “high grading at the landscape level” would clearly call for a complete halt on harvesting of any remaining Old Forest in the area AND beginning some catchment liming.|
Currently there is a stand-off between the Nova Scotia Government/NS Dept of Natural Resources and Renewables (NSNRR or NRR)* and citizens who are taking direct action to block government-approved logging on Crown land parcel AP068499 Beals Meadow by the WestFor consortium.
*Nova Scotia Natural Resources & Renewables (NSNRR) is the government department hosting wildlife and forest management sections; it is the successor to Lands & Forestry (L&F) and earlier, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The government maintains that their prescribed Uniform Shelterwood harvest of 30-35% of trees “aligns with the new Silviculture Guide for the Ecological Matrix (SGEM) and the “Lahey Recommendations” and therefore (by implication) should be acceptable to all. They do not recognize the area as a wildlife corridor, as contended by Randy Neily, a long time hunter/fisher and observer of the area.
Other opponents of the logging – led by Nina Newington/Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia – say that while the approved harvest is or may be in conformity with the SGEM, it overlooks key components of the Lahey recommendations, notably those related to landscape level issues, which are not addressed by the SGEM, a stand-level decision-making process; they say it is critical to address landscape level issues because of the intensity of harvesting over the broader area. For more details view Current Issues/AP068499 Beals Meadow and NRR’s Line in the Sand (both on this website). Recently, rare lichens were found on the site but that’s not enough for NRR/Westfor to change tack (CBC Feb 18, 2022)
In two earlier posts, I explored these positions and related evidence. In the first post I looked at the extent of clearcutting (lots) in the vicinity of AP068499 Beal’s Meadow. In the second post I looked at what’s left on the landscape as revealed by the Forest Development Class Layer on the Provincial Landscape Viewer and how ongoing logging is targeting the few remaining old forest stands.
In this final post in the series. I look at the quality of the soil in the area and how that impacts decisions around Crown land logging.
To do so, I have consulted the publicly available FEC Soil Type Layer on the Pre-Treatment Assessment Reference Viewer and other maps, read related scientific papers and asked questions of and received helpful replies from some of the staff at NRR.
I began writing this post back in late January, thinking that it was a simple matter of applying my ‘salmon and soils‘ story of 2016 to AP068499 Beals Meadow. I quickly realized that whole story needed an update as there has been a lot of scientific literature coming forth in the meantime; also the Independent Review of Forestry took place (Report published 2018), Kevin Keys at DNR/L&F/NRR released a public document in the form of a scientific paper on the long awaited Forest Nutrient Budget Model (Keys et al., 2016); and in July of 2021, L&F/NRR published the SGEM and HPF Phase 1, describing how the model would be used to address nutrient issues on forested Crown lands in NS.
So the update took a while – see Current Issues/CALCIUM DEPLETION/update.
I address the status of soils in the area of AP068499 Beals Meadow on two pages on this website:
In brief, On the Soil Type : AP068499 Beals Meadow is situated within but close to the edge of a broad area of low Base Saturation soils illustrated in the sketch at right, which is based on Keys et al., 2016. It’s a pretty coarse scale map (both the original and the sketch).
I looked at other maps for more info. and to confirm or not the location of AP068499 Beals Meadow within the area of depleted soils. The maps included (i) a Geology (bedrock) map of the area, (ii) a Surficial Geology Map, (iii) a Soils of Nova Scotia Map and finally (iv) the Forest Ecosystem Classification Soil Type/Pre-Treatment Assessment Reference Viewer Map. All underscore the nutrient-poor status of the soils and bedrock. Map (iv) places most of AP068499 Beals Meadow in FEC Soil Type Group 1. There is a wee bit of Soil Type 3G, and an even smaller bit of Soil Type 4 [14,G] indicating s that the soil and bedrock of most of AP068499 Beals Meadow is the really nutrient poor, acidic Soil Type ST1.
However, the PTA for the site under Soil Type says that it is 71% ST 2G, a more fertile soil type than ST1. The difference is significant as it affects the estimates of SusMAI, the “nutrient-sustainable” harvest level.
So I asked some questions of NRR personnel about the assignment of soil type for the AP068499Beals Meadow PTA.
I received a quite detailed response; from that I learned that the assignment of soil type as 71% ST 2G was based on a ground check of the area following PTA procedures.
In response to my question “Were any soil samples taken and analyzed for nutrients?”, I was told:
Regarding soil sampling, nowhere in the PTA protocol are samples taken for analysis. The NBM does not take into account the current balance in a nutrient “bank account”, only the estimated inputs and outputs in relation to the soil type and vegetation type combination at a given site. We know base cation nutrient levels are lower than desired, which is why we build in a recovery factor in the NBM runs. If we did not do this, calculated SusMAI values would be higher.
So the answer to the question ‘are soil samples taken?’ is NO.
View Soil Type for the details.
The second part of the answer was a bit of a wakeup call to me that I had misunderstood a key detail of how NBM-NS, the forest Nutrient Budget Model for Nova Scotia works.
In brief, On Nutrient Budgeting:
I have been following scientific literature and government initiatives and writing submissions to government related to nutrient depleted soils and aquatic acidification in Nova Scotia since 2009. Frustrated by form replies from government, I started to ‘go public’ with my concerns with an op-ed in the Chronicle Herald in April of 2016 and subsequently have covered the topic on this blog/website.
I had anticipated that DNR would be making use of a Nutrient Budget Model to predict nutrient deficits associated with forest harvesting beginning in 2011 as they had announced in 2009 that such a model would be ready for use by then. There was a model developed by 2011 but, I was told, it was being kept under wraps until more soil sampling could be conducted to better calibrate the model, and the model itself could be further refined; concerns were also expressed that if the initial version of the model was released, it could be mis-used. Circa 2013, the 2011 MSC thesis by Josh Noseworthy on the model was posted online, but still was not cited or made available via NSDNR.
Finally a scientific paper describing the forest Nutrient Budget Model for Nova Scotia (NBM-NS) authored by DNR soil Scientist Kevin Keys et al. was published in the fall of 2016. Use of NBM-NS was subsequently incorporated into PTA procedures for practicing ecological forestry in the Ecological Matrix of the new Forest Triad (see SGEM, released July 2021) as well as into procedures for estimating fertilizer needs in the High Production Forestry (HPF) component on the Triad (see HPF Phase 1 Final Report released July 2021).
On April 29, a News Release from NSNRR announced that “The Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix applies to Acadian forest on Crown land and is being phased in gradually. By June 1, the majority of practices in the guide will be required.”
It appears that one of the first sites to which NBM-NS was applied during this phase-in period was AP068499 Beals Meadow. On Dec 3, 2021 CBC published an article describing the protest/encampment developing at AP068499 Beals Meadow; Natural Resources official Ryan McIntyre is quoted as saying that the pending cut adheres to the Lahey report recommendations, a position later re-iterated by Minister Rushton (see NRR’s Line in the Sand on this website).
On Feb 2, 2022, I wrote RM to ask “if any nutrient budgeting was conducted as part of that assessment, as that is a component of the SGEM (2021)”. That set off a constructive set of questions and responses between myself with RM and soil scientist Kevin Keys over a period of 7 weeks.
Based on those discussions and what I have gleaned from reading a lot the related literature, I am left still having to question whether it is appropriate to view NBM-NS as an effective tool – on its own – to ensure “nutrient sustainability” of forest harvests on the highly acidic, low base saturation, high aluminum “depleted”, still-in-exceedance soils that cover 60%+ of the Nova Scotia landscape. In combination with liming, yes, or as it is to be used on High Production Forestry sites, in combination with soil amendment. But applied on its own, without liming, which is how the model is to be used on the Ecological Matrix, the prescribed harvests will do nothing to improve the nutrient status of the soils, & harvesting will actually reduce the nutrient pools compared to no harvesting at all.Use of lime to mitigate aquatic acidification issues has been investigated in Nova Scotia since the late 1970s; “catchment liming” – applying lime to the commonly forested lands around headwaters – has proven to be more effective than applying lime directly to affected waters,
Not mentioned on the NRR website or in any other context by NRR, as far as I can determine, NRR Soil Scientist Kevin Keys has recently collaborated with aquatic scientists at Dalhousie University and the Atlantic Salmon Federation in a project on helicopter liming, with very promising results for the forests:
|Helicopter Liming to Help Restore Acidified Forest Soil Productivity
vEGU21, the 23rd EGU General Assembly, held online 19-30 April, 2021, id.EGU21-13660
Caitlin McCavour and Shannon Sterling (Dalhousie University, Earth and Environmental Science, Canada);
Kevin Keys (Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry);
Edmund Halfyard (Nova Scotia Salmon Association)SUMMARY (bolding inserted)
“… Despite major reductions in SO2 and NOx emissions since the 1990s, forest soils across the region have shown few signs of recovery from acid deposition impacts and it could take decades or centuries for natural recovery to occur. As a result, affected forests are stressed, less productive, and more prone to climate change-induced damage. Helicopter liming of upland forests may be an effective way to jump-start the soil recovery process. Here we report on early results (one-year) from a helicopter liming trial in Nova Scotia, Canada where 10 tonnes/ha of dolomitic limestone was applied to approximately 8 ha of mature red spruce (Picea rubens) and mature tolerant hardwood (Acer spp. and Betula spp.) forest.,, These early chemical results are promising and further support the use of helicopter liming as an effective tool to combat lingering effects from acid deposition in acidified forests.”
The statement that “Helicopter liming of upland forests may be an effective way to jump-start the soil recovery process” confirms, in my view, the conclusion I had arrived come to that the adjustment of harvest levels by using NBM-NS will not, on its own, ensure “nutrient sustainability” of harvests on depleted soils.
At the very least, soil samples should be taken at AP068499 Beals Meadow (and other sites on depleted soils the Ecological Matrix being considered for harvest) to assess the current state of the soils – are they still in the range 5-15% Base Saturation; are there signs of some recovery? OR have they fallen even further (to less than 5-15% Base Saturation)?
If there are no signs of recovery from the depleted state of the soils in the area of AP068499 Beals Meadow, that in combination with extensive clearcutting in the past followed by “high grading at the landscape level” would clearly call for a complete halt on harvesting of any remaining Old Forest in the area AND beginning some catchment liming.
For details view Nutrient Budgeting for AP068499 Beals Meadow
Some comments on Social Media
On Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment and Ecology
BW GOOD READ:: The latest post by David Graham Patriquin on Nova Scotia Forest Notes blog. David has been working on this post for awhile now – researching information pertaining to soil condition and nutrient depletion, especially in the area of Beal’s Brook (Last Hope Camp), but this applies to a lot of forests in this region. His post pretty much confirms what I have long suspected. Based on my own observations “on the ground”, one thing I can say is that there are areas around this part of Annapolis county that were clear cut years ago, and they sure aren’t doing much yet. Almost all Crown land on the South Mountain is on poor, acidic soils — a lot of it with such an incredibly thin layer of soil over granite.That ought to tell us something — but I wonder if anyone is even listening…everything about the geology and plants on much of the South Mountain remind me of the Frontenac Axis on the Shield north of Kingston up to Madoc Bancroft, etc.. I’m used to seeing that kind of forest back in Ontario up on the Frontenac Axis. That is *not* productive land for industrial forestry.Don and I spent a huge amount of our time hiking and canoeing in those places. It’s all so acidic, thin soil over granite, water dark amber with tannins. It’s not an area that is logged much anymore — all the saw mills shut down a century ago.
RN to BW: interesting you bring up the granite bed rock. Village of Lawrencetown was pumping from wells on South mt.. Drill new well below 201 Hwy. and was good pure water. Piped it back up Mt. and blended it with the arsenic lace water to lower it to meet Dept. of Health spec’s. The cost to lay pipe and pump it is costing tax payers
dearly. Not to mention what the arsenic is doing to their health. Now how dumb is this !
NN on Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia
Day 200 at the Last Hope camp
In the last week, a snapping turtle came to lay her eggs by the old prospectors tent. A black bear with three cubs was seen on the other side of the bridge. We have camped out on this logging road all this time for all our relations. Msit Nokoma.
Also this week an exceptional post appeared on the blog Nova Scotia Forest Notes.ca:
Following the link at the end of this post to an even more in depth examination of nutrient budgeting led to this passage:
« Prescience of the protests at AP068499 Beals Meadow
The protests and concerns about harvesting at AP068499 Beals Meadow have proven to be highly prescient , and not by accident. They were initiated because of landscape level concerns about a proposed harvest, concerns that were intuitively obvious to people who knew the area well.
As laid out in this Series of Posts on Logging in the vicinity of AP068499 Beals Meadow:
1. On the extent of clearcutting 23Jan2022
2. On Highgrading at the Landscape Level 27Jan2022
3. On the depleted soils
those concerns are well backed up.
The government/NRR response, contending that the harvests as announced comply with Lahey Recommendations simply shows their limited grasp of those recommendations or more concerning, a deliberate attempt to ignore the parts they don’t like.
We have to do better, beginning with AP068499 Beals Meadow. »
Thank you, David Patriquin. One of the beauties of this camp has been growing connections with scientists of different stripes. Just as, around the world, scientists are sounding the alarm about climate change and nature loss, so too in Mi’kma’ki.
Good science starts with good information. Just as DNRR biologists never set foot in the forest by Beal’s Brook, instead relying on inaccurate models to decide there were no Species at Risk here, so it turns out no-one from DNRR ever took any soil samples here. Instead they decided that these soils were good enough to support the kind of cut they proposed, even though their own soil map suggests that is not the case.
A quick tour of the area around Last Hope yields ample evidence of the extreme acidity of the soil (aka low Base Saturation.) Anyone with eyes to see can tell that old clearcuts are not growing back. Some are turning into barrens. Theoretical models are not good enough.
“At the very least, soil samples should be taken at AP068499 Beals Meadow (and other sites on depleted soils in the Ecological Matrix being considered for harvest) to assess the current state of the soils – are they still in the range 5-15% Base Saturation; are there signs of some recovery? OR have they fallen even further (to less than 5-15% Base Saturation)?
If there are no signs of recovery from the depleted state of the soils in the area of AP068499 Beals Meadow, that in combination with extensive clearcutting in the past followed by “high grading at the landscape level” would call for a complete halt on harvesting of any remaining Old Forest in the area AND beginning some catchment liming.”
It’s past time for governments to listen to citizens AND scientists. Come out and look at what industrial forestry and acid rain have done to this land.
PM: It is time that science trumps Politics’ !
AF: Don’t even need to factor science into this cutting although its important any one looking into the economics of this cut will see it’s a money losing job