Nova Scotia Forestry in the Spotlight..30Sep2017

Forestry issues made a splash on the opinion pages this weekend, and more quietly, on the woodlot of Peter and Pat Spicer at Spencer’s Island on the Fundy shore of Cumberland Co.

Even in Protected Areas: Clearcut in lands designated for the Raven Head Protected Area, 2011 (“To negotiate a price within the province’s budget, Wagner Forestry [was] allowed to harvest about one quarter of the Apple Head area”)
Click on photo for larger version.

Writes Jim Guy, author and professor emeritus of political science at Cape Breton University:

The economic rationale embraced by the industry is to get the most out of the forest for the lowest possible cost. This was the same rationale used by 17th and 18th century foresters who knew nothing about the science of forestry or the threats of deforestation to global climate stability…This review should demonstrate our commitment to protect the province’s forests and honour the rights of Nova Scotia’s indigenous people.

View JIM GUY: Clear-cutting review for Nova Scotia is timely in the Cape Breton Post, Sept. 29, 2017.

Three items appeared in the opinions section of the Saturday Chronicle Herald (Sep 30, 2017) with one whole page about forestry, as well as a Bruce MacKinnon editorial cartoon (‘Clearcutting Policy is not Clearcut’).

Author and journalist Joan Baxter is particularly irked by the lack of information about where and what is being sprayed on forests:

Free helicopter Clipart - Free Clipart Graphics, Images and Photos ...This year, the provincial Environment Department has approved six applications for herbicide spraying on 61 private properties in seven counties, some close to municipal drinking water watersheds. The total area of the properties is over 147,000 acres, of which nearly 127,000 are leased or owned by Northern Pulp… it is not possible to find out which herbicides are being sprayed or maps showing areas slated for spraying unless one has the means and time to submit a freedom of information request or to drive all the backroads around the 61 properties to find small notices that are posted before spraying occurs.

View OPINION: Clearcutting and herbicide spraying: the story never ends.

Leslie Corkum speaks as an elder. “Let me introduce myself”, he says, “I am a nearly 95-year-old veteran who has spent a lifetime working in forestry, private industry and the Department of Lands and Forests”. He recounts the story from early in his career when he witnessed how clearcutting – at that time with horses – damaged the land and says he “resolved then and there that good forestry practices include much more than growing and harvesting trees.” He comments that “possibly our forestry policy should be to highly regulate and only meet local demands”. There’s lots to munch on in his lengthy opinion piece – view OPINION: Take the bias out of forestry policy.

Finally under VOICE OF THE PEOPLE – Fiddling with forestry, Bedford resident Irwin Barrett writes in support of the Darlene Grant Fiander’s Sept. 21 opinion piece, “Tourism fettered while forestry strategy shelved“.

If clearcutting continues at its current pace, Nova Scotia will find it harder and harder to hide from any visitors the wastelands that will be everywhere outside our designated parks. What tourists will want to come here and spend any time and money to see the destruction of so much of our beautiful countryside?

A breath of fresh air

On the Seven Gulches Woodlot

In the interim, I spent a couple of days on the Parrsboro shore and attended the field day for the provincial (and central region) winner of the Woodland Owner of the Year Award, Peter and Pat Spicer of Spencer’s Island.

It was a breath of fresh air in so many ways to view a few pieces of their magnificent 1600 ha woodlot (“Seven Gulches”), managed and harvested for seven generations, while providing habitat for wildlife, a place for outdoor recreation and supporting local enterprises in a region hard-pressed economically. If the working Crown land forests were managed this way, we would not be seeing the concerns expressed above.

Peter Spicer was very gracious in his acceptance speech, but in a few words expressed anxieties likely shared by many if not most private woodlot owners in Nova Scotia today:

Shipyard at Spencer’s Island – the Spicer family’s woodlot was “the main supplier of high quality ship building wood products to the shipbuilding industry that once existed in Spencer’s Island” (DNR), including “the largest ship built in Cumberland County and the last square rigger built along the Parrsboro Shore” (Wikipedia, citing Stanley Spicer Sails of Fundy: The Schooners and Square-riggers of the Parrsboro Shore, Lancelot Press, 1984). Photo courtesy of Margaret Griebel at Spencer’s Island B & B

We have many challenges in our forest industry in Nova Scotia. As private woodlot owners and contractors, it seems more and more necessary that we start to band together and make one strong voice to address the many issues we face in the industry…I hope the government recognizes the need to support private woodlot owners…obviously Honorable Miller does and has stated that, and we hope that we get the support that the mills and larger players do, as well. The industry is only as healthy as the least healthy component and at this time the private sector isn’t flourishing in a climate where the world prices are at an all time high, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Thanks to Peter and Pat Spicer and their family over seven generations for their gentle care of the land and its residents, and for their persistence. They have reminded us where the soul of Nova Scotia forestry resides and that it needs tending.

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