Letters and Op-eds May 14-17, 2018

In OPINION: Forests provide for flora, fauna — and, yes, forgotten folks like me (Chronicle Herald, May 14, 2018), Stacie Carroll says that acorns can teach us about creating a plentiful future, while bemoaning what she sees as the devaluation of forest growers.

She seemed on the one-hand to hand to want to try to bring us all together, but on the other expressed a lot of bitterness towards critics of the forest industry in Nova Scotia. The thread of her piece is not easily identified.

The op-ed elicited some lengthy comments on Woods and Waters Nova Scotia copied into this post at the bottom of the page.

In an Op-ed last fall, Ms Carroll took a blast at participants in the Forest Funeral, which also elicited a lengthy response from Tom Miller In that Op-ed, but not in the current one, Ms Carroll signed off as “a silviculturist, small woodlot owner, food forest farmer and the executive director of the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners”.

In Voice of the People for May 17, 2018, bird-watcher Bev Wigney of Annapolis Royal comments on a large controlled burn scheduled to take place in Cape Breton. Says Bev Wigney:

The timing of this could not be worse for nesting birds — particularly all species of owls that hatch their young in the early spring. It is very likely that owlets have not yet fledged. How are they expected to flee the area of the burn?

I even question the science behind this burn. We are told that once it is burnt, the forest will grow back with Acadian instead of boreal tree species. Where is the science? Why didn’t it grow back as Acadian before? Isn’t the boreal forest the normal forest for that region? Maybe the spruce and fir are the “normal” succession species in that region.

I had wondered about some of the logic for the controlled burn expressed in articles about it (Nova Scotia’s largest-ever controlled burn planned for Highlands, Aaron Beswick, CH May 14, 2018; and Controlled burn to take place in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nancy King in Cape Breton Post, May 14, 2017.

Not stated in the articles, but as I infer from the purpose – to aid regeneration of white pine and red oak – these are surface fires (not-tree killing canopy fires) designed to burn off thick ground vegetation to reduce competition with newly germinating oak and pine seedlings. Regardless, Ms Wigney’s concerns deserve a response from Parks Canada.

As it turns out the Controlled burn in the Highlands ends without success (Greg McNeil, Cape Breton Post/Chronicle Herald, May 18, 2018)

Responses to OPINION: Forests provide for flora, fauna — and, yes, forgotten folks like me by Stacie Carroll (Chronicle Herald, May 14, 2018) on Woods and Waters Nova Scotia.

CH:  A voice of reason

PM:  great read and thoughts!

DP:  “They [“forest growers”] also exist as important cultivators of a carbon sequestration cycled-system structure.” What does that mean? So… our forest management now results in a net sequestration of carbon compared to the native forest? Show us the science!

AW: I am disturbed by the phrase, “farmers of the forest.” There is too great a tendency in forestry to treat trees as a crop. A tree plantation is not a forest. Nova Scotia, like most of the rest of Canada, will never see old-growth forests again because they take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to develop. Tree plantations are designed to be harvested in 50 years or less. Logging is more akin to mining than farming. We strip the land bare of trees and then wonder why streams are warmer and siltier, why salmon and trout are fewer, and native mammals and birds are in decline. Without the sponge effect of healthy forests to retain water, rivers flood more easily, erosion increases and low, warmer water becomes more common in summer.

AB: re: “Hardwood trees and humans appeared on the planet at about the same time”. Scientifically speaking, that’s a stretch, but the message is good: Let’s grow together.

Beyond the obvious mention of farming, the language of “when we grow forests”, “the planter of the seed”, “forest growers” ignores the forest’s ability to grow itself, to reseed itself, if given a chance. This generally implies a deeply-rooted disconnect with nature and biodiversity, which also implies a disconnect with ecology science, and with the public’s general perception of “nature”. This notion appears to be the greatest point of division between the so-called “sides” that the writer alludes to (e.g., social media / public versus forest industry). Although the writer writes a lot of excellent terms and positive thoughts, the article’s substance and meaning will be questioned by a lot of readers.

re: “the highest form of ignorance is rejecting something you do not understand.” Insulting the “other side”, even when subtle, is too common in these forums. Education is key in bringing “sides” together, but putting down one side only pushes them further apart. Even the least educated person in Nova Scotia can notice that some areas are clearcut, and others are not, and that there’s a drastic difference between the two. A small step up is seeing maps of clearcutting, and wondering why other non-clearcut areas don’t look the same from natural processes like wind and fire. Dismissing the public’s observations as merely ignorance is an important hindrance in our collective ability to face this issue more directly.

In summary, we’re all in this together, as W&WNS says on occasion. Sure, there are some extreme opinions at either end of the spectrum, but most of us can agree that biodiversity and soil health is critically important to society, that forest products are also important, and that people in the forest industry are hard-working. This article touches on that to some degree, so the author must be commended for that.

Please, keep comments respectful. Thanks for reading.

AB:  (One last friendly critique (or two) is of the author’s comment on NIMBY. NIMBY is generally applied to those whose backyards are affected, so the author may be insinuating that rural Nova Scotians (who are the ones living next to controversial harvesting practices) are against “forest-product industry […] folks, most of whom live in rural areas, who work very hard to practise good land stewardship”. Typically, advocates for industrial forestry tackle urban dwellers, so it is not clear what is meant in this article. The lead-up to the NIMBY comment states “Society has generally disregarded the human element in the debates over resource utilization and the necessity of it” which many would argue is not accurate. From a distance, at least for public land, it appears to be more of a “boss and staffer” relationship, whereas the boss (the public) does not believe that the staffer (forest industry) is doing a good job. The boss isn’t disregarding the staffer because the boss knows that they need the staffer, but instead sending it strong messages that more/different is required. The messages are also filtered through a middle person (government). All friendly comments welcome, thanks again for reading.

FM: Hi AB, for myself I find it very hard to accept change. For instance, just in my life time, to let go of things that I thought would be there forever. The relationship I had built with the natural world, not just for relaxation and spiritual , but for the years I relied on the fish , animals and plants for my livelihood. I don’t have any answers on how we can make things better or how to slow down the way we take things from the land. It becomes very overwhelming when you see native species of animals and birds disappearing every year and invasive species taking their place. It is certainly changing the landscape. I think you are right by saying we need to learn to share, not only our wisdom and knowledge, but our visions for the future and what is our responsibility to look after things for our generations to come. I do believe its not all the big things we do that will make the difference, but a combination of all the little things we do in a big way that will make change.

AB: Kudos

HN: Well spoken, FM

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