Folly or the future? Citizens protest planned Crown land harvest in Annapolis County
Natural Resources official says pending cut adheres to Lahey Report recommendations
An Annapolis County resident is trying to draw attention to a pending cut on Crown land in a bid to stop it, but an official with the province says that cut actually represents the future of forestry in Nova Scotia.
Randy Neily and a group of supporters are highlighting the planned cut of about 24 hectares in an area situated almost evenly between Roxbury and Albany, not far from Highway 10 in Annapolis County.
The work will be conducted by WestFor Management, a consortium that works on behalf of 12 sawmills.
Neily said in a phone interview Friday that the land that he's been frequenting since he was a boy, and is near his camp, serves as a wildlife corridor. He's unhappy the cut, which is expected to happen in the coming weeks, was approved by the Natural Resources Department.
"It's just kind of mind-boggling what the actual plan is here," he said.
"They say, on one hand, that they're trying to protect some areas and leave some core areas, but then they'll turn around and [are] rubber stamping licences to WestFor to go around and harvest. It's hypocrisy at its best."
The approach of the future
But an official with the province said that isn't what's happening.
Ryan McIntyre, a registered professional forester with the Natural Resources Department and the resource manager for the province's western region, said only 30 to 35 per cent of the trees on the land will be removed and it will be done using a "light-touch" approach.
"Basically the goal of that site would be to leave long-lived, tolerant species — pine and oak on this particular site, mainly — to regenerate naturally in the openings that they're going to create," he said.
"This site and this prescription would line up with the new silviculture guide for the ecological matrix, as well. It aligns with the Lahey recommendations."
Lahey says progress lacking
Neily said he saw evidence of moose in the area in the 1990s. More recently, he's seen evidence of pine marten and wood turtles.
But McIntyre said the site is not considered a wildlife corridor and, if it were, provincial biologists would have flagged it during the assessment process that happened before the cut was recommended to the minister for approval.
"Even if there were, where this is such a light-touch approach — you're maintaining structure, you're maintaining the ecological integrity of the site — this is the type of mixture of conservation and forest management that we want to see going forward."
University of King's College president Bill Lahey released a report in 2018 highlighting the need for changes in the way the forests are managed.
Among other things, Lahey called for a drastic reduction in clear cutting and a more ecologically focused approach that would allow the woods to heal following years of industrial logging.
In a report this week examining the government's progress to date implementing his recommendations, Lahey concluded there is little to no evidence of change on the ground and that it's been an ongoing challenge getting some people within the Natural Resources Department to shift their thinking away from business as usual and embrace ecological forestry.
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