Softwood lumber update: sales to U.S. still high

In the business section of the Chronicle Herald, James Risdon looks at the market for N.S. softwood lumber south of the border. “Booming softwood lumber prices are letting Canadian producers carry on business as usual…South of the border, lumber prices have gone up by almost exactly the same amount this year as the countervailing duties, says Joel MacLaggan, sales manager at Waverley-based lumber broker Eacan Timber.”

There are still concerns about a possible downturn in the U.S. housing and the exclusion of N.S., P.E.I. and N&L from the countervailing duties still has to be finalized.

View Business as usual for lumber producers (CH, Sep 5, 2017).

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Northern Pulp to build a replacement for Boat Harbour treatment facility

“While the province moves forward with their promise to clean up Boat Harbour and to shut down the controversial Boat Harbour treatment facility by January 2020, Northern Pulp is taking steps to replace it…There are still many aspects of the project that have to be determined including who pays for it and owns it once it is complete.” Read more in, Sep 1, 2017

UPDATE (Sep 7, 2017): View also Details of Boat Harbour waste water plant murky (Francis Campbell in the Chronicle Herald, Sep 6. 2017)

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NSDNR Minister: Help conservation by being better informed & treading carefully

In a Canadian Press item about the addition of eleven species to Nova Scotia’s list of species at risk, Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller is cited as saying that Nova Scotians can help with conservation by becoming better informed and taking care when venturing into the wilderness. (View Chronicle Herald, Sep 1, 2017).

A lot of Annapolis Co. looked like this in late May, 2017 and there’s more on the way.

In the same Saturday print edition of the CH in which the CP item appeared, a letter to the editor bemoans “major cutting of forest going on here [West Dalhousie area, Annapolis Co]..just behind this is a block of what is now considered protected land, but they are cutting it all in between my land and the protected area…West Dalhousie is dealing with tree destruction, spraying, road issues, environmental concerns about which nothing is done. Furthermore, there is wild animal displacement due to habitat loss, although officials deny it.”

I hope all Nova Scotians take Minister Miller’s message to heart.

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NSDNR responds to Halifax Field Naturalists’ Concerns and Questions about impacts of forestry in Nova Scotia on conservation of biodiversity

Ovenbird nest with chicks
By Fredlyfish4Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
The density of ovenbird territories declines as intensity of forest harvesting increases (BBMP2)

A few days prior to the last Budget Address of the Liberal Government’s first term on April 27, 2017, the Conservation Committee of the Halifax Field Naturalists submitted a 30 page document to the Nova Scotia government in which they asked specific questions about the science of sustainable forestry in Nova Scotia.

A response to the comments and questions was received from NSDNR Minister Margaret Miller on Aug 24, 2017. View Post on HFN website; it includes a link to the NSDNR response.

For reference, an extract from the summary for the Concerns and Questions document is given below:
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Moose in the News in Nova Scotia

Thx to CC for photo

Leaving aside the Halifax Mooseheads, moose are a pretty regular item in Nova Scotia news. There are two items running currently.

One is about the 51st North American Moose Conference which is being held over 5 days (Aug 28 – Sept. 1) at the Celtic Lodge in Ingonish, Cape Breton. The theme is “Hyper-Abundant Moose Populations – Ecological Consequences and Management Strategies.

Infrared moose tracking will be just one of the topics up for discussion at the 51st North American Moose Conference this week in Nova Scotia. An expert from the northeastern U.S. will discuss how infrared aerial tracking can be used to detect moose, even under a dense forest canopy. The setting for the conference is the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, a place where the burgeoning moose population has taken a toll on the area’s forests…Moose in Cape Breton have destroyed about 11 per cent of the forest due to the species’ vigorous feeding on young coniferous trees. – CBC, Aug 28, 2017

The second concerns illegal hunting of moose on Hunter’s Mountain in Cape Breton under the guise of non-licensed but permitted hunting by Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq.
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Independent Review of forestry in Nova Scotia finally announced

The Liberal government’s choice of William Lehey to head up the review is evidence they want it to be credible.

In its pre-election budget address on April 27, 2017, the Liberal government announced that it would “appoint an independent expert to review our forestry practices to ensure we strike the right balance for our forests. This review will get underway as soon as possible, starting first in the western region. No future long-term timber harvesting licences will be awarded on crown land until the work is complete”. That promise became part of their election platform.

The Liberals regained a majority in the ensuing election (May 30) and on June 30, Deputy Minister Julie Towers said she expected the review would get underway within weeks.

Yesterday (Aug 30) the government announced the review is beginning, that it would be headed up by University of King’s College President William Lahey and that it would take place in three phases with a final report on February 28, 2018.
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A reminder of Nova Scotia forests’ real potential

Troop Island, Aug 29, 2017
Click on image for larger version

According to the Chronicle Herald “Nova Scotia’s Liberal government is expected to announce Wednesday [today, Aug 30, 2017] a promised independent review of forestry practices in a province where clear cutting remains highly controversial.”

The article by Keith Doucette cites EAC’s Raymond Plourde:

Plourde maintains the review isn’t needed because of the exhaustive work done as part of the province’s 10-year natural resources strategy, released in 2011.

Still, Plourde sees the review as an opportunity to restore a balance that was abandoned when the government announced last year that it was moving away from a goal of reducing clear cutting on Crown land by 50 per cent.

Coincidentally yesterday, I paddled to Troop Island in St. Margaret’s Bay with a couple of teenagers to show them the forest that the first Europeans would have seen when they landed on our shores, the forest that our Mi’kmak peoples stewarded over the previous 5000+ years.

A few meters into the forest, the teenage chatter faded. The young visitors were immersed in their surroundings.
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CN Rail won’t spray but Nova Scotia industrial forest cos & chief public health officer defend it otherwise

Free helicopter Clipart - Free Clipart Graphics, Images and Photos ...A recent article in the Chronicle Herald provides a number of details about the status of herbicide permits for woodlands and rail right-of-ways in Nova Scotia, as well as the weighty comments of experts.

The principle agent is Visionmax, containing 49% glyphosate. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum, systemic herbicide that acts on enzymes involved in synthesis of organic compounds in higher plants (also in algae, fungi and bacteria) and in general acts only on growing organisms. Its effect on bacteria is generally ignored but there is growing evidence for negative effects on our gut microflora.* It is widely used in agriculture, especially on crops such as GMO corn, soybean and canola genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate.
*See for example: Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans (2014)

Use of glyphosate in forestry is somewhat akin to chemotherapy for treating cancers; it is applied in late summer/early fall when research conducted by by NS Lands and Forests in the 1980s showed it is least damaging to the conifers, but is still effective on broadleaved plants.

The CH article by Francis Campbell reports that CN Rail “decided not to spray the brush and vegetation that is encroaching on the nearly 120 kilometres of track from Bedford to Brookfield…”, likely in response to negative publicity around use of glyphosate locally. Instead they will use manual methods to set back unwanted vegetation. Thanks CN.

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Thoughts on a day of a solar eclipse

Solar eclipses seem to elicit deep feelings and connections to our larger being, momentarily taking us away from our obsession with the here and now.

I had decided to spend the morning of August 21 exploring an area where I thought I might find some old growth forest. In the afternoon, I would paddle down the nearby lake to explore some lakeside wetland under the changing sky of the eclipse.

I wasn’t disappointed with the forest. From the point I landed on the stony beach up to the crest of the hill behind it, I walked in the deep shade of hemlocks, many over 2 feet DBH (diameter at breast height; the largest: 34.1 inches based on circumference), with occasional red maple, sugar maple, yellow birch but only the odd red spruce. There were some large snags, mostly of yellow birch, and of some old, cankerous beech. Continue reading

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Editorials and letters about forestry in Nova Scotia continued..Aug 22, 2017: Columnist bemoans broken promises

Forests for the Future in Nova Scotia?

“In its first term, the Liberal government failed virtually every test of forest conservation.”

In VIBERT: Promise may be last chance for N.S. forests, Jim Vibert writes

In its first term, the Liberal government failed virtually every test of forest conservation. Premier Stephen McNeil was forced to admit, during the spring provincial election, that there are “serious problems” with current forestry practices. He promised an independent review.

The Sept. 21 throne speech will tell where that promise stands. If there’s some meat on the bones, the government may be serious. If the promise is merely repeated, skepticism is justified. If it’s missing altogether, grab the kids and head for the woods.

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