DNR confirms Loon Lake area cuts included Old Growth

Thanks for your straight talk & persistence, Danny George.

Danny George raised the alarm about cuts of Old Growth hardwoods in the Loon lake area in Feb, 2018

UPDATE (May 18, 2018): I located the link to the NSDNR report, courtesy of Tim Bousquet. View ADDENDUM
Also: Danny George (forester) and Margaret Miller (Minister of NR) were interviewed on CBC’s Info AM: Listen to Audio File.
And: Report finding old-forest cut indicates need for reform in Nova Scotia: criticCanadain Press, in halifaxtoday.com, May 18, 2018 – DNR Minister says “it was “unfair” to suggest the province isn’t providing enough oversight of the companies cutting the trees.”
I recently commented on A few things we are waiting on, one of which was “some report from NSDNR on their assessment [of the Old Forest Status] of the Rocky Lake site and others in the Loon Lake area which they presumably conducted in late Feb/early March”.

That report has now been issued according to posts made today on CBC News and the Chronicle Herald, and it apparently confirms that some of the stands cut were indeed Old Growth.


The critics were right — old-growth forest being cut in Nova Scotia
Nina Corfu for CBC News, May 17, 2018

A new report from Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources acknowledges policy changes are needed to ensure old-growth forest isn’t being cut down unnecessarily.

In the report, Natural Resources forester Peter Bush concluded that two of 12 forest stands that were partially harvested by Port Hawkesbury Paper earlier this year in the Lawlor Lake area of Guysborough County contained old-growth forest.

It also found that eight of 15 stands in the queue to be cut also contained old-growth forest.

DNR says ‘we failed’, confirms old growth trees were cut by Port Hawkesbury Paper
Aaron Beswick in the Chronicle Herald, May 17, 2018

The Chronicle Herald article provides comments by NSDNR Minister Margaret Miller indicating that NSDNR holds Port Hawkesbury Paper partly responsible for the cuts. (PHP has blamed DNR for faulty procedures – the Pre-Treatment Assessments – prescribed by NSDNR.)

“This is a case where we failed,” said Department of Natural Resources minister Margaret Miller on Thursday. “Our processes failed. We take part of that responsibility as well as Port Hawkesbury Paper.”

…“The current (pretreatment assessment) trigger for tolerant hardwood old growth needs to be reviewed based on these study results, as well as other old forest scoring that has been completed by the department,” reads the report.

…Miller said the mill would not be penalized for cutting old growth because blame for the error was shared by both the mill and her department.

View earlier posts related to this story.


I have not yet been able to locate the NSDNR report cited in the news articles on the NSDNR website. (A link to the report at the beginning of the Chronicle Herald story leads to an old news story.) NSDNR issued no Press Release for this one, it’s not listed under Latest News on the homepage, nor is it listed under Forestry Publications>Recent Publications.

Evidently, the news of the report was directed to specific reporters/news organizations, and likely CBC and the Chronicle Herald because those reputable news organizations had investigated Danny George’s allegations and followed up subsequently.

From what’s given in the CBC and CH reports, it sounds like NSDNR deserves a pat of the back for ensuring that the situation was properly investigated and a issuing a report which will eventually be public. Too bad they didn’t prepare a corresponding Press Release and too bad for the small mindedness of Minister Miller sharing the blame with PHP when she talked to the Chronicle Herald.

‘Not that I think PHP shouldn’t share some of the blame – I think they should but because their operations are FSC certified, not because they didn’t follow NSDNR’s faulty procedures better which (without access to the report) I am guessing is the reason Minister Miller assigned some of the responsibility to PHP. Many have complained for years that the PTAs conducted by contractors/mills are not properly monitored by NSDNR – does the NSDNR report acknowledge that NSDNR is to blame for not responding earlier to such concerns?

Danny George got it right again (as reported in the Chronicle Herald):

“If I had one wish, it would be that under no circumstances should Port Hawkesbury Paper be able to hire a contractor that does the pretreatment assessment,” said George. “It should either be DNR themselves, or someone who has no affiliation with industry whatsoever. Everybody knows how those big mills can squeeze the people who are dependent on them to give them what they want.”



Link to the NSDNR Report

I found the link to the NSDNR report thanks to Tim Bousquet who posted it on his Morning File, Friday, May 18, 2018.

Old Forest Assessment in the Lawlor Lake Area of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia
Author: Peter Bush, Publication: Forest Technical Note No. 2018-01, NSDNR, May 9, 2017. 21 pages

Executive Summary
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assessed 27 forest stands in the Lawlor Lake area of Guysborough County in March 2018 in response to public concern about forest harvesting and forest product utilization. DNR used the old forest scoring system, outlined in the Old Forest Policy (2012) to assess these stands. The assessment looked at 12 stands that were recently partially harvested and 15 stands that were planned for partial harvest in the area. DNR found that 2 of the 12 recently partially harvested stands were old growth forest (OGF), and a further 8 were considered old forest that did not meet the criteria for old growth. Of the planned harvest stands (not treated), 11 of the stands were OGF; 1 was old forest; 1 was mature forest, and 2 were immature. Old forest scoring age for all the stands surveyed had a mean of 134 years, with a range of 45- 167 years. The Old Forest Policy currently has 27,825 ha (15.7% of the Eastern Interior Ecodistrict) of conserved OGF and restoration opportunities. An examination of the Pre-treatment Assessment indicator currently used to flag potential stands for old forest scoring found that 5 of the 13 OGF stands in this study would have been flagged if used. The Old Forest Policy and its associated tools (old forest scoring) provides a science-based approach to evaluate OGF and appropriate policy mechanisms to conserve that forest when it is found.


Comment on Woods and Waters Nova Scotia (May 18, 2018)

GF: I worked for lands and forest from 1977 to 1988. We had 14 technicians in the area . Now I think there are 3 to cover the same ground . What needs to be done is the premier needs to cancel the grants and put people back on the ground.

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