Update on the clearcuts close to Gully Lake Wilderness Area: NSDNR changes them to partial cuts

Gully Lake hardwoods

Barely a day after Jonathan Riley wrote about clearcuts close to Gully Lake Wilderness Area in the Truro Daily News (May 23, 2017), the same news organization & journalist report that DNR backs away from Gully Lake clear cuts.

DNR staff changed the plan for all three blocks, labelled PI173495 A, B and C, May 24 from proposed clear cuts to proposed partial cuts. DNR did admit earlier this month that they were in talks with the Department of Environment about policies regarding forest harvests near protected spaces.

So…will NSDNR also back away from the proposed cuts by Loon lake Nature Reserve, a much smaller area and therefore much more vulnerable to destructive activities on its borders?

Thanks for your vigilance Jonathan Riley.

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More cutting near Nova Scotia Protected Areas…now Loon Lake Nature Reserve

Forest Harvest Allocation Map accessed May 24, 2017 showing proposed cuts near Loon Lake Nature Reserve.
Click on image for larger version.

Just earlier today I made a post about proposed clearcutting close to Gully lake Wilderness Area which was highlighted in an article in the Truro Daily News yesterday.

Also today I received notice about the next set of proposed harvests and a friend asked if I had looked at it, telling me that a lot of cutting, mostly clearcuts, is proposed near the Loon Lake Nature Reserve in Guysborough Co. So I had a look at it, and indeed it’s “unbelievable but true” (see map).
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No long term leases of Nova Scotia Crown Land for now but current cutting continues even near Protected Areas

Source Forest Harvest Allocation Maps 24 May 2017;
red arrow inserted to highlight cuts proposed near the Gully Lake Wilderness Area.
(Click on image to enlarge it.)

Although the Liberals committed to “Initiating a “through and independent review of our current forestry practices” and that “until that review is complete, there will be no additional long-term timber harvesting leases issued for Crown Land…”, there has been no interruption of the shorter-term leases already in place.

Posts of proposed cuts continue to be posted on the Forest Harvest Allocation Maps at 2-3 week intervals, the last being on May 11.

A cut proposed near the 3,810 ha Gully Lake Wilderness Area that protects significant upland hardwood forest caught the attention and the ire of Chris Miller, a national conservation biologist with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), as reported by Jonathan Riley in the Truro Daily News for May 23, 2017):
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NSLFFPA blasts NDP support of 50% clearcutting goal

The Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre products Association (NSLFFPA) has placed an ad in the CH under the banner ATTENTION POLITICIANS (see page A5 of the print ed for May 23, 2017).

It begins with “Don’t mess up Nova Scotia’s private woodlots program”, goes through NSLFFPA’s history and adoption of FSC certification (“Eastern woodlot owners now comprise the fastest-growing FSC group certificate in Canada”), and then takes a blast at the “NDP promise to return to imposition of its previously discredited and repudiated notion of a 50% percent clearcut regulation…[which is] arbitrary and meaningless.”

The NSLFFPA clearly believes that its adherence to FSC standards ensures that its members are practicing good forestry. That could well be the case. However the oft-repeated statement that the 50% percent clearcut regulation is “arbitrary and meaningless” is simply not correct.
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Neal Livingston: We need good public policy to drive the transition to better forestry in Nova Scotia

Specifics are given in an 8-stage plan to transition from clearcutting to a selection cutting forest economy

How can we make the transition from clearcutting to selection management in Nova Scotia? The same way we transitioned to recycling, with defined stages and absolute deadlines, says Neal Livingston.

Margaree Environmental Association activist, woodlot owner, power producer and filmmaker Neal Livingston, interviewed about forestry on the Sheldon Macleod show the day after the Leader’s Debate, said that he has been looking at what’s happening in other jurisdictions, Ontario and Quebec in particular. There, large scale clearcutting is largely restricted to the boreal forest in the north and there is much more selection management in the mixed forests and hardwoods in the south.
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Clearcutting comes up in Nova Scotia Leaders’ Debate

It’s a sign of the times, I guess, that questions related to environment were not posed by the CBC hosts during the first 70 minutes of the 90 minute Leaders Debate yesterday evening.

They did come up in questions from viewers in the last 20 minutes, initiated by a question about the leaders’ positions on environment. Gary Burrill said the NDP would bring in an Environmental Bill of Rights; Jamie Baillie said the PCs would strengthen EGSPA, and Stephen McNeil said the Liberals are proud of their record on environment, citing the introduction of a cap and trade system that won’t impact Nova Scotian’s wallets as amongst the accomplishments. (I can’t see how how a cap and trade could work except by impacting wallets.)
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Nova Scotia election: only the Greens are unequivocal about clearcutting

Aerial imagery of “sustainable harvests” on crown land after 10+ years. To date, Conservative, Liberal and NDP governments have all had a hand in maintaining excessive clearcutting on the Nova Scotia landscape.

Candidates representing the environmental platforms for the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and the Greens made short presentations and participated in Q&A in an Environmental Issues Election Debate yesterday. The event, held at Kings College in Halifax, was sponsored by the Ecology Action Centre and the Sierra Club, Atlantic chapter.

Question: Will you implement the commitments in the Natural Resources Strategy including the reduction of clearcutting to no more than 50% of all clearcutting and the reform of forestry practices?

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Editorials and letters about forestry in Nova Scotia, continued..in AFR for May017

Two letters in the May 2017 issue of Atlantic Forestry Review reflect on N.S. Crown land management issues.

Tom Miller of Green Hill, N.S. focusses on the need for better management of Crown land hardwoods, not that softwoods don’t also need it, he says, but because he is tired of fighting that [softwood] battle. “Let’s start the conversation about how to revive the rural areas and do a better job of managing our hardwood resources.

“Firstly, take all crown land hardwood out of the softwood users’ control. They don’t use it, and have a low regard and understanding of it. All the hardwood. Red maple and white birch can make high value products; they just need an “understanding champion” on their side….Set up a separate department in DNR to look after this segment and promote this value-added industry. Find new management people, because the present ones are softwood people with the short rotation view. This will be a truly long-term vision, with a 100-300 year time frame…Don’t think in terms of a large mill with two or three shifts per day. We need small- to medium-sized operations of 10-30 people spread around the province in small town areas.”
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Nova Scotia forestry science simply wrong

Donna Crossland talks about the soil profile and what it tells about past forests at the MTRI Old Forest Conference in 2016

Speaking at the Tupperville, Annapolis Co. Community Hall on May 9, 2017, forest ecologist Donna Crossland reiterated her oft repeated criticism of NSDNR’s claims that its harvesting methods mimic natural disturbances. It simply isn’t true, she says, as reported in the Digby Courier.

Crossland, co-author of Restoring the Health of Nova Scotia’s Forests (2010), emphasized that while she works for Kejimkujik Park, “she was not representing Parks Canada.”
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Forestry becoming an election issue in Nova Scotia

The N.S. Liberals made some key environmental commitments on May 8 including

  • Maintaining the moratorium on fracking (the Liberal government introduced a moratorium on fracking in 2014);.
  • Introducing a new Coastal Protection Act;
  • Introducing a new Biodiversity Act and launching a Biodiversity Council;
  • Initiating a “thorough and independent review of our current forestry practices. Until that review is complete, there will be no additional long-term timber harvesting leases issued for Crown Land…That review will begin immediately, with an independent expert beginning in the western region.

View Press Release

From what I have heard from environmental and sustainable forestry folks so far, the first item is widely applauded, the second and third are welcomed but people want to see details, while there are mainly questions and skepticism about the commitment to an independent review of forestry. Continue reading

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