Nova Scotia

Protestors celebrate early end to glyphosate spraying season in Nova Scotia

Aerial spraying of the controversial herbicide glyphosate over a private woodlot in Hants County, N.S., was cancelled last week, marking the end of the spraying season for 2020.

Province says spraying cancelled because of Hurricane Teddy

Left to right: Joan Norris, Nina Newington, Bob Mertens and Don Osburn were among those who occupied land around Bills Lake in Hants County, N.S., last week to protest the spraying of glyphosate. (Submitted by Nina Newington)

Aerial spraying of the controversial herbicide glyphosate over a private woodlot in Nova Scotia was cancelled last week, marking the third such cancellation across the province this month and the end of the spraying season for 2020.

A group of protestors who are calling for a provincewide moratorium on glyphosate spraying had been camped out on the woodlot in Hants County for about 24 hours last week when they learned the spraying had been called off.

Although they weren't given a reason for the cancellation, Nina Newington said they counted it as a victory.

"We were delighted," Newington said in an interview. "I think it tells us that the [provincial] government is, I hope, beginning to recognize that there is really no social licence anymore for aerial spraying."

A spokesperson for the province confirmed the cancellation Monday, and said all other approved glyphosate spraying was either complete or had also been cancelled.

Glyphosate is used in the forestry industry to kill deciduous trees, allowing the softwoods sought by harvesters to grow without competition.

Newington said her and other protestors' disapproval of glyphosate is based on ecological concerns, and concerns for human health; she and others suspect the chemical is a carcinogen.

Vegetation that grows after glyphosate spraying, said Newington, is "not really a forest, but just a plantation of softwoods."

"It's very low in biodiversity but it's also very vulnerable to all of the increasing pressures that are coming with climate change," she said.

Company cites Hurricane Teddy

The herbicide is approved by Health Canada, which said last year it does not consider the chemical to be a cancer risk if it's used correctly. Newington said Health Canada's approval needs to be revisited.

A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, which issues approvals for glyphosate spraying, said the company that held the spraying permit for the 25-hectare parcel in Hants County made the decision to cancel.

"Century Forestry advised Nova Scotia Environment that they had finished their spray program for 2020 due to Hurricane Teddy," Barbara MacLean said in an email.

Teddy, which was a post-tropical storm when it made landfall over the province last Wednesday, caused minimal disruptions and damage.

Protestors occupied the woodlot for about 24 hours last week before learning the glyphosate spraying had been cancelled. (Submitted by Nina Newington)

The permits for spraying were granted in August and expire on the last day of the year.

Century Forestry Consultants could not be reached for comment. 

Five Islands Forest Ltd., the company that owns the woodlot, declined to comment.

Newington and other protestors also occupied private woodlots in Annapolis County and a private woodlot in Kings County on two separate occasions earlier this month, where glyphosate spraying was scheduled and was ultimately cancelled.

In total, four out of 43 sites in Nova Scotia approved for glyphosate spraying were cancelled this year. All of the cancellations followed protests.

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