Mining Association of Nova Scotia’s SWAP Initiative – “the threat is real”

wildareaSo says Chris Miller in an op-ed in the Coast today.

…My question is this. Why do we do it? Why do we stick it out here despite the challenges? It’s tough everywhere, but there are certainly more opportunities in places like Toronto, or New York or London.

We all have our own reasons, but I think at least part of the answer lies with Nova Scotia itself. Let’s face it: This is a pretty spectacular part of the planet that we all share. It’s the sort of place that gets into your veins and makes you want to stay, despite the challenges.

…The landscape itself pulls us in and holds us. It infiltrates our lives; our culture; our way of life.

…So, when the Mining Association of Nova Scotia comes along and starts lobbying for access to our protected wilderness areas, we should all be very alarmed.

he concludes

…the threat is real and what’s needed right now is for the provincial government to make it absolutely clear that the most treasured natural areas of Nova Scotia will always be protected and never handed over to private interests.

View Under-mining Nova Scotia’s protected wildernesss by Chris Miller in The Coast, Nov 23, 2017.

There has been quite a bit of chatter in my circles about MANS’ recent “SWAP initiatives“.

I was almost relieved by the extremity of their demands, commenting that MANS appeared to be trying to discredit mining in Nova Scotia. But I guess in the Age of Trump, we should all think a little differently. An aggressive stance may be taken not to achieve the stated goal, but to deflect attention or to make a lesser deal look good to the detractors of the Big Deal.

I have heard both views. One: that the SWAP Initative is somehow related to the Independent Review of Forestry, and meant to detract from public attention to forestry issues. The other: what MANS is really trying to do is further slow down if not stop the declaration of more protected areas.

It has also been noted that land protected by private land trusts like the NCC and NS nature Trust and presumably land protected by other types of easements is not closed to mining by default (as are provincially and federally protected lands), and so are potentially vulnerable.

Another concern I have expressed is that if a SWAP deal was granted for mining, the industrial forestry concerns and land developers would demand similar deals and it would be the end of our protected area system. In this regard, I found NSDNR’s response to a simple question about total forest cover in Nova Scotia concerning.(Details below)

Whatever the strategy, the SWAP Initiative is unsettling.

As well as making absolutely clear that provincially and federally protected lands will never be open to mining, the possible loophole which could allow access to NCC and NatureNS protected land and land protected by other various types of easements obviously needs to be addressed by our lawmakers. Otherwise, such agencies will pull out of Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians themselves will stop contributing to them.

Impacts of forestry in Nova Scota on conservation of biodiversity: Concerns and Questions
A Submission to Nova Scota Department of Natural Resources From the Conservaton Commitee of the Halifax Field Naturalists* April 19, 2017 Modifed April 26, 2017*

The Response: NSDNR Responses to Questions from the Halifax Field Naturalist Submission of April 19, 2017
NSDNR, Aug 24, 2017

Question 1

Recently cited figures for forest cover in Nova Scotia are in the range 75-79%; a figure of 84% was cited in the 1970s [8]; pre-Columbian forest cover for the Maritmes was likely over 90%.
Question1: Does NSDNR have good figures for forest cover over time in Nova Scotia that can be shared with us? Has there been significant loss in total forest cover over the last 50 years? Is deforestaton an issue?

From the NSDNR Response

The data shows that the area of forest cover has actually increased over the past 100 years, including over the past 50 years… (view all)

OK, but then they added this: (bolding mine)

There is no evidence that deforestation is an issue as a consequence of forest management. Some of the most recent deforestation has occurred in the Cape Breton Highlands ecoregion primarily affecting the National Park and the Pollets Cove Wilderness Area. This resulted from the continuing hyper abundance of moose following the spruce budworm outbreak, which has converted most of the upland balsam fir ecosystems to grasslands. NSDNR has been supporting Parks Canada in restoration initiatives as they seek to address associated biodiversity concerns. Fortunately, this same level of deforestation has not occurred in the region south of the park which is under forest management. It appears that harvesting, silviculture, and reforestation activities along with the logging road networks and associated hunter access has allowed these ecosystems to remain forested, thus maintaining habitat for endangered lynx, marten, and Bicknell’s thrush among many other species dependent on these ecosystems. This highlights the potential of integrated planning to direct a variety of land management approaches to achieve balance and optimize the roles that each can play.

Uh huh. The moose problem in C.B. (some areas of Newfoundland as well) is a pretty simple matter of overabundance of moose introduced into a remote area without their natural predators…. not of a lack of “integrated planning to direct a variety of land management approaches to achieve balance and optimize the roles that each can play”.

So it’s had to not to read the NSDNR response as an effort to make a case for some harvesting in protected areas, especially as they do not mention the moose cull.

On the C.B. Moose and forest loss:

Annual moose conference draws scientists from around Canada and U.S.
Hal Higgins, CBC News Aug 28, 2017

Mi’kmaq take control of moose harvest on Hunter’s Mountain
Tom Ayers in the Chronicle Herald, Aug 31, 2017

Albino moose killing in Cape Breton outrages Mi’kmaq
CBC Bews, Oct 7, 2013

Parks Canada Moose Reduction Program
An overview, and access to the Full Plan. Also see The Moose – Our Largest Herbivore

Bring Back the Boreal
Section on the Cape Breton Highlands National Park website.

Tiam Mi’kmaq Ecological Knowledge: Moose in Unama’ki
Written by Nadine Lefort with Clifford Paul, Ernest Johnson, and Charlie Dennis
Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources 2014

Mi’kmaw Traditional Hunt: Why it’s Different from a Cull
Chief Rod Googoo December 1, 2015

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