Nova Scotia rolls out 5-year clearcutting plan
Critics say the Department of Natural Resources strategy is too vague
The province rolled out its new strategy on natural resources Tuesday, outlining the province's goals for forests, parks, minerals and biodiversity over the next couple of decades.
It begins with a five-year plan to limit clearcutting in Nova Scotia's woodlands.
Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker said currently, about 96 per cent of the province's wood harvesting is done that way.
"The clock is ticking and we're working towards a goal of 50 per cent — based on the ecosystem management, certain soils or wind direction or amount of vegetation that's on the land, will determine which lands are most suitable to partial harvesting, and which are more adaptable to clearcutting," Parker said Tuesday.
Andrew Fedora, executive director of the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners, said he was hoping to see more details in the government's announcement.
But Fedora said he is encouraged the government seems committed to working with landowners, industry groups and environmentalists to establish rules and regulations over the long term.
Parker said his goal is to work with woodlot owners and other groups to achieve a balanced approach on the use and protection of forests.
He said his department is planning more concrete action and will soon fill two new positions with experts who will help determine how much forest can be cut annually.
Conservative natural resources critic Alfie MacLeod said further consultation on top of the three-year process to come up with the plan doesn't make sense.
"I'd say that the ball was dropped," said MacLeod. "Or they might have just wanted to make sure that they didn't cause any noise before the next election."
Parker said the eight-month delay in releasing the plan was largely due to the government's desire to ensure it was moving in the right direction through extensive consultations with the forestry industry and the public."
"It has to be a consensus approach in many ways and government's role is to initiate that," he said.
Parker said the government would continue to work to establish rules for issues including whole tree harvesting and an annual allowable cut.
He added that his department would soon fill two new positions with experts who would help determine how much forest can be cut annually.
The plan promises to develop and carry out a harvest tracking system by types of tree and location within six months and to expand research on long-term forest productivity within a year.
With files from The Canadian Press