SB writes to WestFor 14Dec2020

Posted on Stop Spraying & Clear-Cutting Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia) Dec 14, 2020

Mr. Zwicker,

Your statement* is grossly disingenuous. You are misleading the public. There a number of things for which the record needs to be set straight.

(1) You state that WestFor’s harvest practices are in line with the Mainland Moose Special Management Practices (SMP). I’m sure that’s true. Given the massive spotlight that is shining on the debacle in Digby County right now, I have no doubt you follow those practices to the letter. Conveniently, your statement excluded any details about what regulations/guidelines are mandated under the SMP. I am not surprised by the omission, as any reasonable reader would find the measures laughable (as wildlife biologists do) and grossly insufficient if one *actually* serious about protecting the critically endangered mainland moose.

In practice, the only thing that the SMP achieve is provide reputational cover for clearcutting. It allows companies like WestFor to devastate entire ecosystems with industrial logging equipment, so long as tiny clumps of trees (0.001 km2) are spared. When trying to protect wide-ranging species like the mainland moose (home-range size in SWNS: 55km2; Snaith & Beazley, 2004), “retention patches” of 0.001 km2 are not a serious, good-faith conservation measure. They are a joke.
(2) Equally egregious is what your statement did not say. You did not mention the fact that the provincial government is required by law to designate ‘core moose habitat’ (in which even-aged forest harvests, such as those almost universally employed by WestFor, would be forbidden). You did not mention that, from 2003 (when the moose was first listed as ‘endangered’) to this day, the government has refused. You also did not mention the fact that the government (and, I presume, WestFor) has been provided with strong evidence of regular moose presence in the area (photos of tracks + a map of recent sightings), and has completely ignored it.

(3) You state that the mainland moose issue is complex and involves many pressing threats, including brain-worm, winter tick, and poaching. The single gravest threat to the mainland moose is habitat fragmentation and loss. Full stop. The same is true of many at-risk species that depend on contiguous, mature forest like the ones you are clear-cutting in Digby. You are correct in stating that parasites and poaching are also major problems, but you failed to mention that the continual construction of logging roads through moose habitat, as WestFor is doing, makes these same problems much more severe.
(4) You claim “The media (has portrayed the area) as intact old growth forests, when in fact the area has been sustainably managed since the late 1800’s.” That your statement accuses the media of being disingenuous when you yourself are trying to convince the public that modern forestry is akin to that practiced in the late 1800s is particularly galling. As you well know, Sir, mechanized logging equipment wasn’t invented until the second half of the 20th century, and industrial-scale forestry, as practiced by WestFor, is an even more recent development.

Mr. Zwicker, you conclude your statement by saying that “Forestry and the mainland moose can co-exist here as they do in many other areas across North America.” On its face, the encampment does not disagree with that. They (along with tens of thousands of Nova Scotians) do, however, understand that moose cannot co-exist with forestry practices that result in ecosystems being converted to moonscapes. And that is the irreparable travesty that WestFor is committing in Digby right now.
Shanni Bale,
BSc, ecology; MES, landscape ecology

From NSFN:

* FOREST HARVEST AND MAINLAND MOOSE IN DIGBY COUNTY, NS Posted on WestFor website dec 14, 2020. text:

Our planned and on-going forest harvest in Digby County follows all current provincial Special Management Practices (SMP) identified for mainland moose. The SMP was created by the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry biologists based on science including recommendations from the Nova Scotia Mainland Moose Recovery Team.

Contrary to recent media reports, the preservation of an iconic species like the mainland moose is very important to us. The planned and on-going harvest in Digby County, like all of our harvests, receives approval based on compliance to provincial Mainland Moose Special Management Practices and all other block approval requirements.

With the implementation of moose shelter patches, moose retention patches, moose buffers, roads and access points, as well as coarse woody debris targets, habitat issues are being addressed through the Mainland Moose SMP. The mainland moose issue is complex and involves many more pressing threats, including brainworm, winter tick, and poaching.

This area has been portrayed in the media as intact old growth forests when in fact the area has been sustainably managed since the late 1800’s. It is the economic backbone of the community and has been for multiple generations of forest professionals. Forest workers, their families, and the local communities have benefitted from the sustainable forest management in the area for generations. This area is also the back yard for many individuals in Digby County. Forestry has provided the necessary infrastructure for accessing the area and will continue to provide a safe area for people to hike, fish, gather, and enjoy the outdoors. Forestry and the mainland moose can co-exist here as they do in many other areas across North America.

We were happy with the result of Friday’s hearing. While we appreciate the concern and passion of the protestors in Digby, we continue to believe that a responsible forest industry can be balanced with the need to protect our natural environment, including endangered species.

If you have any comments please feel welcomed to email them to us at!


The WestFor Management Team