Forestry practices to be reviewed by former deputy minister

William Lahey, who is now the president of the University of King's College, has been asked by the government of Nova Scotia to review forestry practices in the province.

William Lahey is now the president of the University of King's College

The province is paying Bill Lahey $30,000 to make recommendations on clear cutting and harvest levels. (Jeff Green/CBC)

The government of Nova Scotia has asked William Lahey, a former deputy minister of environment and the current president of the University of King's College, to review forest practices in the province.

Lahey will be paid $30,000 to make recommendations on clear cutting, harvest levels and the future use of 225,000 hectares of the former Bowater Mersey Paper mill lands bought by Nova Scotia in 2012. His report is expected in February.

"I have a blank sheet to carry out my analysis," Lahey told reporters Wednesday.

Previous Lahey reports

Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller would not commit to adopting recommendations in advance.

"We're not going to ask Professor Lahey to do this report and not listen to his recommendations," Miller said.

William Lahey is the president of University of King's College in Halifax. (Submitted by University of King's College)

This is not the first hot potato handed to Lahey by a Nova Scotia government. He co-authored an aquaculture regulatory review for the NDP. That report highlighted widespread discontent with the aquaculture industry.

"He was a good pick," said environmentalist Raymond Plourde of the Ecology Action Centre. "I was surprised. He's willing to tell them the tough stuff." 

Controversial practice

Plourde, however, says the government does not need another review to tell it to reduce clear cutting. The controversial harvest practice will likely dominate the Lahey review.

Last year, the McNeil government abandoned a policy implemented by the NDP to reduce clear cutting by 50 per cent.

The clearcut limit came after extensive public consultations and a recommendation from a previous independent review headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Constance Glube and businessman Allan Shaw. Industry objected.

Lahey would not speculate about what he will recommend on clearcuts.

Harvest allocations on Crown land approved

The Liberal government has halted long leases on Crown land where clear cutting will be used.

Miller announced she will now approve all harvest allocations on Crown land. She said she expects the Lahey review to get to the bottom of claims that Crown land leased to mills has undercut the price that can be obtained for fibre cut on private woodlots. 

About the Author

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.