Parts of Nova Scotia could be facing significant firewood shortages this winter with suppliers already turning away customers.

Michael Nowe is a firewood supplier in Danesville, near Liverpool. His lot is about half as full as it should be for this time of the year.

He says he started turning customers away in June because he knew the supply of wood wasn’t there.

"It's a lot of people I turn down," he says. "Everyday I go in and spend an hour, hour and half answering messages, turning people down."

Nowe and others on Nova Scotia’s south shore used to get some of their hardwood from contractors that worked for Bowater Mersey. Since the mill shut down and the province bought the land, the source has dried up.

Nowe doesn’t mince words when it comes to the province, now in control of the hardwood lands.

Firewood shortage

Nowe and others on Nova Scotia’s south shore used to get some of their hardwood from contractors that worked for Bowater Mersey. Since the mill shut down and the province bought the land, the source has dried up. (CBC)

"Get someone in there who knows what the real world is all about," he says. "That’s one good way to fix it. They bought a piece of land that they know absolutely nothing about."

The shortage is not only a concern to those who rely on wood to heat their homes, but environmentalists as well.

Matt Miller at the Ecology Action Centre says mills cutting on Crown land, including Northern Pulp, are using more hardwood.

"Firewood that would otherwise be made available to local contractors who would sell it to folks to heat their homes is being diverted to other uses," he says.

The province says there is greater competition for hardwood and the number of wood cutting contractors has fallen as mills like Bowater closed. Adding to the problem was the crash of the housing market in the United States.

Allan Eddy is the associate deputy minister with the Department of Natural Resources and says his department is working on the problem.

"Other departments of government have been providing financial incentives for both training and productivity improvements," he says.

"So those are all initiatives we have, but it takes some time to rebuild that critical mass in industry."