Variable Retention is L&F’s new way of describing clearcuts, sometimes. Overstory Removal is another. At least in the Interim.
In a post on Feb 20, 2019 – Nova Scotia L&F “eliminates clearcutting” – the word that is – I noted that
“Seed Tree Harvest”… has apparently now been removed from the list of Prescription Type on the HPMV, while Variable Retention is now a common Prescription but was hard to find in the older lists/maps. So I am guessing that Variable Retention, which is not defined in the Forest Management Guide, (nor can I find definitions elsewhere on the NSDNR/L&F website*), includes many or all of what were Clearcuts – Seed Tree Harvest under the old system.
and I posed a set of related questions to Forestry Maps/L&F.
I have as yet had no acknowledgment of that e-mail, but this morning I received a PTA description for a Crown block proposed for harvest by Northern Pulp (in response to a request I made on the HPMV) and I took the opportunity to ask if they could shed any light on my questions.
I received this reply within 90 min from <CrownInquiries@northernpulp.com>
I will let the department answer those questions as it is all part of the “Interim Retention Guidelines” which you are able to find on their website.
Indeed, in my comments on Feb 20, 2019, I had overlooked The Interim Retention Guidelines document, primarily because I was relying on the search function on the L&F website with “Variable Retention” as the search phrase, which did not bring up this document.
I certainly should have recalled the Interim Retention document which was released Dec 3, 2019, in tandem with the Government Response to the Independent Review; both documents are posted on the website for the Independent Review
The goal of the Interim Retention Guidelines is “to retain 10-30 % (by basal area) of each stand where an Overstory Removal or Seed Tree is prescribed in the current Forest Management Guide.
A summary of Interim Retention Guidelines as provided in the document:
1) Leave approximately 10-30% stand-retention when the Forest Management Guide prescribes an Overstory Removal or Seed Tree Harvest.
2) Design retention consistent with the attached decision key and objectives listed on Pages 1-2.
3) Leave retention trees distributed through the stand wherever possible.
4) WH&WP legacy tree clumps are included in retention levels.
5) Priority for Retention.
a. Uncommon tree species that form a small proportion of a stand (e.g. Ironwood, LIT, large old super canopy trees)
b. Wildlife trees and biodiversity features (see Biodiversity Guide)
c. Growing stock and advanced regeneration (preferably LIT species of appropriate form)
d. Deep rooted overstory of wind-firm LIT trees (SM, YB, WP, RO, WA)
e. Shallow rooted overstory of wind-firm LIT trees (RS, EH, WS, RM)
f. Deep rooted non-LIT overstory (RP, JP, WB)
To help with the implementation of these guidelines the following decision key is provided:
So to answer my own questions:
1. Can you refer me to a L&F document with a definition of Variable Retention, or otherwise provide me with a definition/description? ANSWER: See The Interim Retention Guidelines document released Dec 3, 2019
2. Is use of “Seed Tree Harvest” as a prescription being dropped? ANSWER: apparently
3. Is it the case now that what were previously described as “Clearcut- Seed Tree Harvest”, are now given by “Variable Retention”? ANSWER: Yes
4. Does “Variable Retention” include treatments that would NOT have been described as clearcuts under the older postings? ANSWER: No or Possibly**
If so, how were they described? (possibly irrelevant)
So here is a case where 30% retention (the highest level under the Variable Retention Guidelines) is being recommended, evidently as an alternative to Overstory Removal & Plant which would have been called Clearcut-Overstory Removal & Plant under the old terminology of the HPMV with Clearcut a Harvest Type and Overstory removal a Prescription Type – view Post, Feb 20, 2019
Two of the sections are alternatives to Salvage Harvests. This management prescription is not described in detail in the FMG, but is cited in summary form as “Salvage – Remove overstory and salvage merchantable blowdown”. That corresponds to the federal definition of “Salvage harvesting” (as distinct from “Salvage Cutting”): “The removal—after the main logging—of the rest of the timber, with a view to supplying a different class of product.”
So my interpretation is that under the old terminology of the HPMV, it would been “Clearcut- Salvage”.
So… the Answer to Question 4 above appears to be NO, i.e. Variable Retention is L&F’s new way of describing clearcuts.
However, besides Seed Tree Harvest (now apparently dropped as a Prescription Type), it seems to include some instances of Overstory Removal, while other instances, apparently, are still described as Overstory Removal (see legend in figure below).
Clear as Mud? I’m still hoping L&F will chime in.
Thanks for the prompt reply, CrownInquiries@northernpulp.com
Please comment on NSFN content via WWNS; you can simply reference the content or URL* on NSFN in a post on WWNS. *For this post the URLis http://nsforestnotes.ca/2019/01/23/nova-scotia-forest-technicians-association-advocates-extension-of-the-boat-harbour-act/