Nova Scotia

3 billboards outside Halifax lament impacts of clear-cutting

They may not be Oscar-worthy, but three billboards outside downtown Halifax have generated sufficient buzz to satisfy the group behind them, which wants to end clear-cutting in Nova Scotia.

Environmental group alleges widespread destruction of birds' nests

It's not quite Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but the Margaree Environmental Association says these billboards have drawn lots of attention. (Facebook)

They may not be Oscar-worthy, but three billboards outside downtown Halifax have generated sufficient buzz to satisfy the group behind them.

The Margaree Environmental Association paid to have the three billboards erected on busy commuter routes in early March as part of a campaign to end clear-cutting in Nova Scotia.

"As an environmental group, we're always just looking for what's a thing we haven't really tried before, and will it help put pressure to make change," said co-chair Neal Livingston, who lives in Inverness County.

The content of the billboards was motivated by statistics cited in An Estimate of Nest Loss in Canada Due to Industrial Forestry Operations, which was published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology. (It was not motivated by the Oscar-nominated Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.)

The study estimates the number of bird nests destroyed by forestry operations annually for each province.

Information equals change

The billboards peg the Nova Scotia figure at 80,000 nests, about 9,000 nests fewer than the median of the numbers cited in the study, which says the tally of nests destroyed in this province could range from 18,709 to 159,138 annually.

"When we looked at these avian studies, it was something we had never seen before," said Livingston, "and new information, I think, is always important in making change, both in the public's minds, and also in the public policy makers' minds.

"We felt that doing a series of billboards about this would be a good form of public pressure."

The group paid a few thousand dollars for the campaign.

While visiting Halifax last month, a few people mentioned the billboards to him, not knowing his involvement, Livingston said.

But he's happiest with the reach they've had online.

"Normally if I post something on Facebook about an issue our group's working on, you know, we'll get a little bit of interest, but in this case we got really massive interest. We had I think up to 300 shares and more comments than I've ever seen."

Impact unknown

The billboards call on readers to contact Premier Stephen McNeil, but Livingston doesn't know if anybody has done so.

The government tracks the number of comments it receives on a given issue, but doesn't track what prompted those contacts, a government spokesperson said.

The total number of clear-cutting-related calls and emails received since the billboards went up wasn't readily available.

Two of the billboards are due to come down this week. The third will stay up until mid-April.