Nova Scotia

Forestry minister promises 'dramatic reduction' in clear cutting

Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin says there will be a “drastic reduction” in clear cutting once Nova Scotia’s new forest management guide is complete, something he expects will happen by late November or early December.

Iain Rankin expects Nova Scotia's new forest management guide to be complete by early December

Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin says clear cutting is already being reduced and that will happen further with a new forest management guide. (Name withheld by request)

Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin says there will be a "drastic reduction" in clear cutting once Nova Scotia's new forest management guide is complete, something he expects will happen by late November or early December.

"But really, it's about outcomes in the forest and that takes time, obviously," Rankin said in an interview Thursday.

"This is going to be a 10-, 20-, 30-year process where you'll see the actual look of the forest change into a more multi-aged and multi-species forest."

Last August, University of King's College president Bill Lahey delivered his review on forestry practices, a document that called for less clear cutting and more focus on biodiversity and ecological forestry.

Lahey advocated for a so-called triad model, where some land sees intensive forestry, some is left untouched and most has a lighter touch in the way it's worked.

Rankin says his department is on track to complete its first set of commitments related to the Lahey report on time. (Robert Short/CBC)

Rankin said people who participated in the process to develop Lahey's report will soon be receiving invitations for a June meeting with the minister and his staff to learn more about what's been done to date.

In the last few weeks the department has signed agreements with external advisers for the teams working to implement the Lahey report recommendations.

"We're talking about leading academia, scientists and people that actually worked on the report with Prof. Lahey that are on those teams," said Rankin.

That includes Bob Seymour with the Northeastern States Research Cooperative, Peter Duinker from Dalhousie University's school for resource and environmental studies, and Laird Van Damme from Lakehead University's biology department.

Rankin said choosing people Lahey worked with adds credibility to the process while responding to the call to be more transparent about how things are done.

A draft of the new management guide is almost complete and will be shared with stakeholders later this summer to gather "feedback and see if we're in the right spot," said Rankin.

Change in gathering public feedback

The minister has also toured district heating projects on Prince Edward Island to get a sense of what might be possible in Nova Scotia.

Small-scale wood energy projects are viewed as one way to diversify the market for low-grade wood in the province. Rankin said his department is working to identify potential sites for a pilot project and a tender will go out soon so it can be operating in time for the next heating season.

Work is also underway to replace the way public feedback is received for proposed harvests, something that must be completed before the government will sign new long-term agreements with Crown leaseholders.

Rankin said the online harvest map viewer "hasn't been working to the degree" he'd like for gathering feedback. In its place will be the equivalent of a Class 2 environmental assessment.

"Once we have a framework in place where we can do that proper engagement with the public, like a Class 2 EA, and we have the right feedback we need on a landscape basis, then we'll be able to have a better sense of when we can sign a long-term agreement with all Crown licence holders."

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About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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