Key NSDNR Docs

Some of the key documents on the NSDNR website pertaining to sustainable management

NS Legislature: Forests Act
CHAPTER 179 OF THE REVISED STATUTES, 1989 amended 1992, c. 18; 1998, c. 18, s. 559; 1998, c. 29; 2010, c. 2, s. 101

Nova Scotia’s Code of Forest Practice
Subtitles: A Framework for the Implementation of Sustainable Forest Management; Guidelines For Crown Land. NSDNR 2012.
A very important document. It contains four “guidebooks” for Forest Ecosystems, Forest Products, Wildlife Habitat & Integrated Forest Use. In each, Code Principles set the framework for specific guidelines which by law must be followed on Crown land and are suggested for private lands.
COMMENT: Current practices do not appear to comply with many of the directives in this document. For an overall view of the issue, see NSDNR’s nature-based forestry on this website.

Forest /Wildlife GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS for Nova Scotia
Dept of Lands and Forest document, 1987 or 1988 that NSDNR still cites for use. “These Forest/Wildlife Guidelines have been prepared in keeping with commitments in the New Forest Policy of 1986 and New Wildlife Policy of 1987. Accordingly, they are designed to maintain or enhance fish and wildlife habitats in the forest environment. As stated in the New Forest Policy, they are to be implemented on Crown lands and incorporated into forest management programs for private lands. Since all Nova Scotians have an interest in protecting wildlife habitats, these guidelines and standards are designed for use on all forest lands in Nova Scotia. “See also Woodlot management Home Study Lesson Two: Forest Wildlife Guidelines and Standards for a a brief overview of the Guidelines.

Wildlife and Biodiversity
Section of the NSDNR website with documents pertaining specifically to wildlife. The Opening Page lists information related to Special Management Practices including

Species & Habitats Database
Wetland Inventory
Sanctuaries & Management Areas
Belleisle Hunting
Ecosystems & Habitats
Wildlife Habitats and Watercourses Protection Regulation
Special Management Practices
Links (Wildlife Habitat Links)
American Marten
Bald Eagle Nests
Boreal Felt Lichen
Canada Lynx
Heron Colonies
Mainland Moose
White-Tailed Deer Wintering Areas
Wood TurtlesForest/Wildlife Guidelines and Standards for Nova Scotia
Species at Risk – Recovery Plans

The recently published A field guide to forest biodiversity stewardship, available in printed form on request, describes many of the wildlife species and habitats that current policy specifically addresses.

Nova Scotia’s Old Forest Policy
View related webpage on this website.


Ecological Land Classification for Nova Scotia, 2017
by Peter Neily, Sean Basquill, Eugene Quigley and Kevin Keys. Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources Renewable Resources Branch Report FOR 2017-13. This document is a more popularly oriented update to the 2005 edition (next entry). View my review. Short version: Fortunately, one doesn’t really have to understand all of the nuances of hierarchical landscape classification or of the debates about natural disturbance regimes to appreciate most of this work as a guide to the landscapes of Nova Scotia.

Ecological Land Classification For Nova Scotia – Revised Edition 2005
Peter D. Neily et al., 2005. NSDNR Document. “Nova Scotia’s ELC provides a systematic methodology for explaining the distribution and composition of the terrestrial landscapes. By nesting the ecosystems within a hierarchy and providing a linkage between those the size of forest stands to those the size of climate regions, an effective mechanism is now available that permits the choice of detail that suits management objectives and use.” Five hierarchical units are adopted and described: Ecozone, Ecoregion, Ecodistrict, Ecosection Ecosite. Ecosites are units “describe a suite of site conditions including elevation, slope, slope position, aspect, soil drainage and soil texture that can be used to predict forest communities, their species, successional development and productivity…Management applications for ecosites will include forest/landscape level planning, forest ecosystem management prescriptions (including habitat supply modeling), silviculture prescriptions and estimating wood supply.”
COMMENT: As descriptive units, they are fine, however some of the interpretations are open to question, particularly as they relate to disturbance regimes.

A Procedural Guide For Ecological Landscape Analysis
Subtitles: An Ecosystem Based Approach to Landscape Level Planning in Nova Scotia; Approved Guide for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources Integrated Resource Management (IRM) Planning Process. Bruce Stewart and Peter Neily, 2008. “This procedural guide presents a methodology for conducting an ecological landscape analysis – a critical component of IRM planning…This guide presents the analysis phase of landscape planning (Figure 1) which will provide a comprehensive description and mapping of ecosystem conditions and functions across the full ecological landscape, including all ownerships[my italics]. Results of the analysis will provide the basis for incorporating an ecological approach into the landscape design and planning phase… The analysis process will benefit from consultation to…Diaz, N. & D. Apostle. 1992. Forest Landscape Analysis and Design: A process for developing and implementing land management objectives for landscape patterns.” View Diaz & Apostle, 1992.
COMMENT: It’s not clear how this procedure is being applied within NSDNR. Where are the maps, e.g. showing connectivity. How does the process come into selection of polygons for harvesting on Crown land; and how does it affect the type of harvesting recommended by the PTA? —Linda Pannozzo asked how polygons are selected and got this answer: “That got me thinking. How do these harvest sites on crown land get chosen anyway? That is, what kind of vetting process do companies have to go through to end up on the Harvest Plans Map Viewer and eventually approved? I sent this question to Bruce Nunn and I was somewhat surprised by what I got back.

Here is the process:

1. The Licensee [in this case Northern Pulp] identifies a proposed harvest area and identifies any sensitive features requiring mitigation with data available to them.
2. DNR’s Integrated Resource Management or IRM Teams review the harvest plan to determine if any harvesting can occur in the planned area.
3. The Licensee proceeds with Pretreatment Assessment and any field surveys required (i.e. BFL surveys) and refines the plan based upon information gathered.
4. The Licensee may post the block to the HPMV (Harvest Plans Map Viewer) at this point.
5. The Licensee submits the refined plan to DNR for a comprehensive review conducted by the IRM team. All available data on sensitive features are referenced during the review and other DNR professional staff consulted if required.
6. The IRM Team reviews the proposed plan and rejects, approves or approves with conditions (i.e. changes required). The plan may be field audited by DNR.
7. The plan is posted on the HPMV if not posted at step 4.
8. Public comments are addressed and changes made if required.
9. If the area is approved, the licensee is notified.

So, forest companies (licensees) post the harvest blocks, not the DNR, and the companies are permitted to post the plans while the IRM review is taking place.”

So it appears that there is not much landscape level planning going into the process currently.

Forest Biomass of Living, Merchantable Trees In Nova Scotia
Peter Townsend RPF, NSDNR report 2008. Inlcudes biomass-volume relationships.

Mapping Nova Scotia’s Natural Disturbance Regimes
Report FOR 2008-5 Ecosystem Management Group, Forestry Division, April 2008. From the abstract: “Natural disturbance regimes which have influenced forest structure and composition in Nova Scotia were determined and mapped on the provincial Ecological Land Classification. Fifty-one percent of the forested area evolved from infrequent and/or gap natural disturbance regimes and developed uneven-aged softwood forests of red spruce, eastern hemlock, and white pine or uneven-aged hardwood forests of sugar maple, yellow birch, and beech. Forty-three percent of the forested area developed from frequent natural disturbance regimes giving rise to predominantly even-aged forests of balsam fir, jack pine, red pine, black spruce, and red maple.”
COMMENT: The content of this document underlies key assumptions or premises in NSDNR’s whole approach to forest harvesting, but is highly contentious within scientific circles and is virtually unsupported by the published scientific literature. Here is one viewpoint:

Over the past 400 years, Nova Scotia has been repeatedly subjected to human-caused wildfires. These recurring stand-replacement types of disturbance have recently been confused with natural disturbance regimes and can erroneously allow continued justification of frequent clearcutting over large areas where the emulation of natural disturbance regimes is adopted. Historical forest ecology research from other Acadian forest regions clearly indicates that stand-replacement events were infrequent and therefore do not support frequent and widespread application of clearcuts (Ponomarenko 2002; 2007; Ponomarenko and Ponomarenko 2000; 2002; 2003; Fraver and White 2005; Crossland 2006; Seymour et al. 2002; Sobey 2002; 2006; Lutz 1997). Furthermore, the primary stand-replacement disturbance agent may be wind, not fire. Solid empirical evidence on what the natural frequencies and intensities of various disturbance agents may be for Nova Scotia is a cornerstone to choosing appropriate harvest prescriptions that emulate natural disturbance. Partial-harvest practices that emulate gap-replacement disturbances must replace clearcut practices, with a focus on uneven-aged management and restoration of highquality, late-successional tree species. From Restoring the Health of Nova Scotia’s Forests (2010)

See also NSDNR’s nature-based forestry and NSDNR Forest Management Planning on this website for more comment.

Photo Interpretation Specifications
NSDNR 2006. This document provides information on how forest polygons [my italics], those forest management units that are shown on the Harvest Plan Map Viewer, are identified (as I understand it). “Every hectare of land and water in the province is viewed on aerial photography and classified into one or more of 21 forest types or 18 non-forest types. For each forest stand or polygon tree species, average co- dominant tree height of the stand, tree crown closure and site capability to grow forests are recorded. These four attributes are used to derive additional individual stand attributes described in this document. Non-forested areas are also classified into a series of categories described in this document. See also Forest Inventory – Current Forest Data

Forest Ecosystem Classification
“In 2000, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) began a long-term project to systematically identify and describe stand-level forest ecosystems in Nova Scotia – known as the Forest Ecosystem Classification (FEC) project. To date, over 1,500 FEC plots have been assessed throughout the province using a detailed sampling and assessment protocol (Keys et al. 2007). This has resulted in several publications describing regional forest vegetation types, soil types and ecosites (Keys et al. 2003; Neily et al. 2006, 2007; Keys 2007).
In 2010, results from 10 years of FEC project work were synthesized to produce a comprehensive provincial FEC guide which is presented in three documents: Forest Ecosystem Classification for Nova Scotia: Part I Vegetation Types (2010); Part II Soil Types (2010); and Part III Ecosites (2010). This three-part guide builds upon, but also supersedes, all earlier FEC publications… At a stand level, classifying forest ecosystems based on vegetation, soil and site attributes allows users to recognize similar ecosystem units on the ground and to develop a common understanding of these units (Baldwin and Meades 1999; Ponomarenko and Alvo 2001). This allows for ongoing development of guidelines and best management practices which recognize opportunities and constraints associated with diferent ecosystem units, thereby leading to more predictable and sustainable forest management…Four Powerpoint presentations provide an easy to follow introduction to the Forest Ecosystem Classification”. See:
An Introduction to Forest Ecosystem Classification
An Introduction to Vegetation Types
An Introduction to Soil Types
An Introduction to Ecosites
A Woodlamd Owner’s Guide to Forest Ecosystem Classification in Nova Sctia
COMMENT: The three components of the FEC on vegetation, soils, ecotypes are excellent descriptive guides. However interpretations of natural disturbance regimes based on the classifications therein are highly questionable for many sites in Nova Scotia, compounding the errors and misinterpretations in Mapping Nova Scotia’s Natural Disturbance Regimes and Ecological Land Classification For Nova Scotia (cited above).

Nova Scotia Landscape Map Viewer
Convenient for viewing Crown lands, Protected Areas, Ecological land Classification and a lot more. This is a key tool for keeping track of forest management history, extent etc. It takes a while or quite a while to figure it out (at least it did for me; ongoing!). See Codes I had some difficulties equating what’s on the map with the documents above, e.g. “EcoElements on the Viewer appear to be equivalent to EcoSites in the ELC, but the terminologies are not quite the same.


Pre-Treatment Assessment (PTA) Methods and Tools
by Tim McGrath. It describes a bit of the history of PTAs which have been in place since 2012 or 2013 (not clear); and contains specific Cruising Instructions.
COMMENT: The implementation of this procedure is the basis of NSDNR claims that “We have now developed tools that ensure that all harvest treatments are aligned with the nature-based requirements of Nova Scotia’s lands” (see NSDNR’s nature-based forestry (page on this website), and so warrant serious scrutiny. The process itself is quite rigorous and internally logical, but I have a lot of questions/concerns about the assumptions or premises underlying many of the specific decision points which appear to be strongly biased to favour prescriptions for even-aged management.

Pre-Treatment Assessment PTA5.EXE – Version 5
Technical document for in PTA; “A forestry application to collect and report on PTA and Volume data…This project makes use of several guides developed by DNR, including (these links use the internet):
*Tolerant Softwood & Mixedwood Management Guide (2015)**,
*Tolerant Hardwood Management Guide (2011)**
*Intolerant Hardwood Management Guide (2015)**,
*Spruce – Pine Management Guide (2016)**
Forestry Field Handbook (1993)
Forest Ecosystem Classification for Nova Scotia (2010)
Land Capability and Site Index Curves for Nova Scotia Hardwoods
Registry of Buyers Annual Report
A Procedural Guide For Ecological Landscape Analysis
*These core guides have been updated in 2017; links go to the updated versions. Diagrams with decision diamonds show the criteria for selecting different harvest regimes.
COMMENT: In the Tolerant Softwood/Mixedwood Management Key, the first decision diamond requires >60% Long Lived species to proceed towards Selection harvest, likewise for the Tolerant Hardwood Management Key. Surely, that is biasing the whole process against selection management AND re-establishment of a healthy, multi-aged Acadian forest where it once existed. It may make sense from the perspective of industrial logging , but it doesn’t from the perspective of biodiversity conservation.

**It appears most or all of the above cited Management Guides have been replaced by one comprehensive guide:
Nova Scotia’s Forest Management Guideby Tim McGrath, Feb 2, 2018

Selection Harvest Survey: 8 year post-harvest results. Jane Kent et al. Report FOR-2016-4
The report acknowledges the low level of selection harvesting historically (“Over the period 2011-2015, the annual average proportion of selection harvest=6%, commercial thinning and shelterwood= 9%, and clearcuts =85% (by area)” and that “Non-clearcutting harvest methods such as selection harvesting must be increased to meet this goal [ecosystem-based management]. (Those numbers concur with the numbers I cited above in this blog post and in the two previous posts in this series.)
The objective of the survey was to identify issues relating to the successful implementation of selection harvesting, including the impact of treatment on growth response, windthrow severity, harvest damage and removal rates.”
They examined 34 selection harvest sites randomly chosen from selection harvest operations 2004-2006, 1705 ha in total. It is a very thorough study.
A couple of points I found particularly interesting: the growth over the 8 year post-harvest period indicated that ‘it will take 27 years for the volume to grow back to pre-harvest levels”. Of interest to me because an elder from the Parrsboro area told me that on his dad’s mixed woodlot, they cut at about 30-year intervals (pre-1960s). Yellow birch and red spruce – 2 mainstays of the Acadian forest – responded particularly well to selection cutting, sugar maple moderately, and red maple did not respond to release from selection harvest.. all of which seems to make sense ecologically.
The authors identified many deficiencies in the practices “sixty percent of the area surveyed failed to meet the job quality standards” but noted that these sites were selection harvested (2004-2006) before Nova Scotia introduced many of the tools used today to help with the proper implementation of selection harvesting.”
The study provides a very good basis for moving quickly to increase the amount of selection cutting. I was particularly pleased to see the statement that selection harvesting must be increased to meet the goal of ecosystem-based management … quite a different perspective from the more public, oft-repeated PR statements coming out of NSDNR that “all harvest treatments are aligned with the nature-based requirements of Nova Scotia’s lands”! More honesty at the PR level would raise, not lower, NSDNR’s (and the Government’s) credibility.

Panuke Lake Harvest Review
See Department of Natural Resources Opens Up Environmentally Sensitive Area for Clearcutting (EAC, Sep 14. 2014) for the event that triggered this process.

DNR Field Office Locations

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