Nova Scotia

Community forests not an easy solution, says expert

There is a large effort underway in Nova Scotia to create community forests on lands abandoned by Bowater Mersey, but one expert says there are more problems than opportunities for local groups that want in.

Department of Natural Resources looking for suggestions for former Bowater land

There is a large effort underway in Nova Scotia to create community forests on lands abandoned by Bowater Mersey, but one expert says there are more problems than opportunities for local groups that want in.

In December, the province announced it was accepting suggestions to use the forests that used to be included in Resolute Forest Products' operations in southwest Nova Scotia.

Non-profit groups, Mi'kmaq communities and local governments were invited to apply.

Nova Scotia announced last year it was accepting suggestions to use the forests that used to be included in Resolute Forest Products' operations. (Jeff Barnard/AP)

Jorg Bailer, who is part of a group that advises the government on community forests, said a traditional harvest of lumber for boards and fuel wood would not fill the gap left by the closure of the mill.

He said ideas for possible new ventures are a work in progress — more of a concept than an actual list.

Another proposed solution is to focus on fishing and hunting, but Nova Scotians can already use Crown lands to hunt and fish. It would not be a simple matter for a community forest group to attach fees, said Bailer.

"That would become very complex and to some degree, could become political as well," he said.

Another large challenge would be determining who pays for the network of logging roads and forest infrastructure.

"I think that's one of the bigger issues that faces potential new groups," said Bailer.

There are 125 community forests in Canada and the model is already being used in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.

With files from The Canadian Press

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