Forester says old-growth trees cut on Crown land in violation of policy

Daniel George says the woods near Guysborough should not have been harvested.

Daniel George says woods near Guysborough should not have been harvested

Daniel George stands in what he says is a harvested section of old-growth forest. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources is investigating after a veteran logger says old-growth forest is being cut on Crown land near Guysborough.

Daniel George, who harvests wood in the forests, said the stand of trees is about 10 kilometres west of the town of Guysborough, southwest of Eight Mile Lake, at GPS co-ordinates 20t0607988; utm5018179.

The stand consists of shade-tolerant hardwood species such as yellow birch and hard maple, and many of the trees are hundreds of years old, George said.

He showed CBC News hundreds of immature yellow birch and hard maple trees that had been razed.

Policy to conserve

Nova Scotia's Old Forest Policy states it will "conserve the remaining old-growth forests on public lands."

Bruce Stewart, DNR's manager of forest research and planning, told the CBC's Information Morning they have sent a specialist to look into the allegation.

"There's always a chance of finding a forest that you didn't expect to be there," he said, adding that the department's old forest specialist confirmed "there were certainly mature forests and large trees in that area."
The Department of Natural Resources is looking into George's claim. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

DNR staff will now use the department's "old forest scoring system" to evaluate that forest. Stewart said the department has no indication that it's old growth, but if it is, staff will find out how it was cut.

Nova Scotia has 27,000 hectares of protected old-growth forest, he said.

Licence to cut

Port Hawkesbury Paper has a licence to cut 95 per cent of Crown land in seven counties in eastern Nova Scotia.

Company harvesters use a "group selection" method to harvest the trees, which means they cut all the trees in one area, whatever their ages. George believes they should only cut the oldest trees and let the younger ones grow into maturity.

The method being used by Port Hawkesbury Paper cuts too wide a swath, he said, allowing sunlight that discourages the original, shade-tolerant hardwood trees from growing back.

Mark Pulsifer, the regional resource manager for DNR, said George's analysis is "not entirely correct," and Port Hawkesbury Paper's harvesting method does encourage the regrowth of yellow birch, which is one of the most valuable species in the forest.

About the Author

Phlis McGregor

Journalist

Phlis McGregor is a journalist with Information Morning in Halifax.