Nova Scotia

How a Grade 9 class is fighting a planned clearcut in Shelburne County

Grade 9 students at Shelburne Regional High School are campaigning for the province to stop a planned clearcut in Allendale, N.S., a 154-hectare forested area scheduled to be harvested.

'The community of Allendale really doesn't want it cut down. It is home to the endangered mainland moose'

Sadie Oikle, a Grade 9 student at Shelburne Regional High School, is part of a campaign to try and save a forest in Allendale, N.S., from clear cutting. (Submitted by Clara Jurgenliemk)

Sadie Oikle and her fellow Grade 9 students in Shelburne County, N.S., want to save their local forest, and then the world.

The forest is in Allendale, a 154-hectare area the province has approved for a clearcut. Oikle is part of a social studies class at Shelburne Regional High School who will launch a campaign of phone calls and emails on Wednesday to get the attention of Premier Stephen McNeil.

"This forest is really an important forest to a lot of people," Oikle told CBC's Information Morning. "The community of Allendale really doesn't want it cut down. It is home to the endangered mainland moose, which I think is a really good reason to stop this clearcut to protect that species."

The students aren't the only ones in the area looking to stop the clearcut. More than a thousand people have signed a letter calling for a moratorium, at least until the area can be reassessed in light of the province's acceptance of the recommendations in the Lahey report.

"The more we learned about this the more we started to think, 'Why is this happening? Why are these forests being cut down?'" said Oikle. "So, we thought it was really important to raise awareness for this."

A photo from a clearcut in Halifax County in 2017. (Name withheld by request)

These students also participated with thousands of others globally on May 3, the global day of school climate strikes, when they marched from their school to the Shelburne Community Centre. They called it the Stop The Chop March, as part of their effort to bring attention to the clearcut.

"When we were organizing the march, we reached out to media and a few government representatives," said Oikle. "We got great response from a lot of them, but we did not get a response from the provincial government. So, we kind of felt our voices weren't being heard by the people who can stop this clearcut."

What the forestry minister has to say

Iain Rankin is Nova Scotia's minister of Lands and Forestry. He said he wasn't aware of the letter from the students.

"We always get back to people on correspondence," he told CBC's Information Morning. "That is a forest that is predominantly black spruce and balsam fir, and so the short-to-medium lifespan of the trees do warrant a prescription that is a clearcut, but we do have a rigorous process that is analyzed throughout the pre-treatment assessment looking at the species mix."

Rankin said there will be wildlife corridors maintained to help species thrive in the area.

He said conservation is very important to the province, noting that about 12.5 per cent of the province is protected and the goal is to reach 13 per cent.

Short and long-term goals

Oikle said the class's short-term goal is to prevent the Allendale clearcut.

"But ultimately, we hope to greatly reduce the amount of clearcuts in our area and every area around the world, so that our forests can survive and our planet can survive," she said.

"There are so many better, gentler ways to be harvesting these trees that we simply aren't doing."


With files from CBC's Information Morning


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