Green Party Responds to Lahey’s Review of Forestry Practices

August 22, 2018

Find the Independent Review of Forestry in Nova Scotia here.

“Trees are more than standing biomass. Forests have value to tourism, in fighting climate change, in supporting agriculture and preventing erosion. Mr. Lahey’s call for a strong reduction in clearcutting is a good start, but this province has a way to go before we can really say we are protecting our natural capital,” says Green Party of Nova Scotia leader Dr. Thomas Trappenberg.

“What assurance do we have that this set of recommendations won’t join the 2011 report  on a dusty shelf in the Minister’s office, along with all the pulp mill reports and hundreds of other environmental recommendations?”

The Green Party released their reaction to William Lahey’s Independent Review of Forestry Practices today.

The good: Lofty Goals

The Green Party applauds the review’s calls for less clearcutting on public land. We support Dr. Lahey’s calls for environmental assessments of forestry operations on public land. Further, we endorse his recommendation for independent oversight of the report’s implementation

The bad: Compromise

As Mr. Lahey indicates, reduced supply of trees from public land will shift harvesting to private lots, and there is no concrete plan to combat clearcutting on private woodlots.

“The Review team estimates that these measures could, in combination, reduce the wood taken from Crown land by between 10 and 20 per cent, although further analysis is needed to confirm that estimate… My recommendations for Crown land, if implemented, are likely to increase demand for wood from private land, including woodlot owners… A shift in harvesting to private land will also, at least in the short term, likely mean more clearcutting overall, since roughly 90 per cent of the harvesting that happens on private land is by clearcutting. My conclusion is that this is better than the status quo, where not enough  ecological forestry is happening on Crown or private land”

The Green Party urges the minister to consider the long term potential for this natural resource within the framework Mr. Lahey has envisioned. A robust forestry strategy would provide tools and offer incentives to private woodlot owners who choose sustainable harvesting methods, and ultimately support a stronger high-value end product market in Nova Scotia.  

The ugly: Herbicide

To concentrate monoculture production into a smaller proportion of public land, one of the recommendations is to allow herbicide use on public land: “high‐production forestry entails not only planting but early competition and density control measures, including the use of herbicides.”

The rationale is that limited use of herbicide will sufficiently increase yields on a portion of land to allow much less overall land to be used for intensive production. This really hinges on the rest of the recommendations of the report being adopted, so it leaves the door open for continued and accelerated herbicide use.

This is based on the idea of maintaining the monoculture, primarily for pulp mill use, a strategy we find based on very short term thinking and a rapacious use of our natural capital.The Green Party of Nova Scotia calls on the government to implement the recommendations of the Lahey report, taking immediate action to limit clearcutting on Crown lands to 20% and setting up an independent arms-length Forest Practices board to implement this review.

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