In response to a CBC piece titled Fear of looming economic blow remains 1 year after Northern Pulp closure (Emma Smith · CBC News, Jan 7, 2021), Andy Kekacs, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association asks : If the failure of one, keystone wood buyer could potentially wreak such havoc on a critically important part of the provincial economy, why would we ever allow such a situation to develop again?
Kekac’s full comment, from the Facebook Page for the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association (links inserted):
“The [CBC] story illustrates the peril of managing our forests to meet the current needs of a few wood buyers, rather than to maintain healthy, productive, resilient woodlands for the diverse ecological, social and economic values they can provide.
“Consider Jeff Bishop’s argument:
“A boom in lumber sales and pandemic relief funding has softened the blow of Northern Pulp’s closure nearly one year ago, but the head of Forest Nova Scotia says the reprieve won’t last.
“‘There is the fear of that false floor falling out from underneath us and us feeling the true impact to the sector,’ Jeff Bishop told CBC’s Mainstreet on Wednesday. His group advocates on behalf of the forestry industry.”
“This is the same argument that Bishop [is cited as using ] in a February 2019 press release titled “State of the Forestry Sector Grim Without Northern Pulp Obtaining a Short Extension,” by the owner of the Pictou County pulp mill:
“If Northern Pulp closes down, you would likely see a number of sawmills stop working that very day,” said Bishop.
“His comments foretold the dire findings of an August 2019 analysis by consulting firm Gardner Pinfold, as reported by Michael Tutton of Canadian Press:
The consultant says if Northern Pulp closes it will cripple sawmills, forestry contractors and private woodlot owners who are closely tied into the Abercrombie Point pulp mill’s operations
… Consultant Bob Fraser said his firm’s study shows the closure of Northern Pulp would lead to the ‘shutdown of several sawmills that are highly dependent on the mill.
“The point was also hammered home by Robin Wilber, owner of Elmsdale Lumber, during a Dec. 19, 2019, rally of Northern Pulp supporters outside of Province House in Halifax [CTV Atlantic story]:
“If the premier does not extend Boat Harbour and Northern Pulp leaves the province, most of the sawmill industry in the province will also shut down before too long,” said Wilber in a report by CTV Atlantic.
“These predictions did not come true. The past year has been especially grim for Northern Pulp employees, and very difficult for many of the smaller businesses and thousands of woodland owners that supplied the mill. But as Nova Scotians have demonstrated, time and again over our history (and particularly in this last, awful year), we are strong and smart and capable. We are adapting and overcoming. We will succeed.
“Ultimately, Bishop is right: Changing market conditions could cause the forest sector to go to hell tomorrow. That fact underscores the most important lesson that Nova Scotians should take from the Northern Pulp shutdown: If the failure of one, keystone wood buyer could potentially wreak such havoc on a critically important part of the provincial economy, why would we ever allow such a situation to develop again?
“Successive Nova Scotia governments of all parties have made the same mistake: By serving the current financial interests of a few wood products firms rather than protecting the long-term health and productivity of the forest itself, we have significantly reduced the future opportunities and values that our forests can provide.
“It’s our job, as the owners of most of Nova Scotia’s forestland, and as the stewards of a multi-generational resource that defines and nurtures life in this province, to make sure this mistake is never repeated.
“Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association will have much more to say about this in the coming year. I hope you’ll stay tuned.”
We will. Thx for opening up the discussion A.K.