Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia to spend $5.4M to encourage sustainable forestry practices

Premier Iain Rankin continued a string of funding announcements Monday, pledging $5.4 million to encourage more environmentally sustainable forestry in the province.

Public money will be used for thinning stands, tree planting and selective harvesting

Nova Scotia is trying to create a more environmentally sustainable forestry in the province. (Robert Short/CBC)

Premier Iain Rankin continued a string of funding announcements Monday, pledging $5.4 million to encourage more environmentally sustainable forestry in the province.

He made the announcement in New Ross.

Most of the money will be used to extend existing silviculture programs that promote ecological management with measures like thinning stands, tree planting or selective harvesting.

"If you do selection harvests, you can now get funding for doing that. It allows for more opportunities," Rankin said in an interview.

"The alternative is to clear cut. Now with more funding provided, landowners have more options to be able to use the ecological model."

Woodlot owner Debbie Reeves said the government money is needed to promote more sustainable forest management.

"The economics plays a part. There's only so much money to put back into the land. So if we don't have some government funding to support this we aren't going to be able to do as good a job as we can, especially with the ecological forestry element that's now coming to the forefront," Reeves said.

Debbie Reeves, a sixth-generation woodlot owner, is seen in this file photo. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The province is also providing $1 million for training to implement ecological forestry practices outlined in an independent review of Nova Scotia forestry sector by William Lahey.

The government is extending a program for logging roads. It has set aside $1 million for private woodlots.

Owners of small woodlots are eligible for up to $5,000, or 75 per cent of the cost of roads on their property. Those are defined as woodlots from 20 to 2,000 hectares.

The program started last year and had five times as many people apply as there was money available. Unsuccessful applicants were put on a list and next in line will be contacted as more money becomes available.

Small woodlot owners to benefit

Jeff Bishop of the industry group Forest Nova Scotia said 125 to 150 small woodlot owners will benefit this year.

"It's a great investment because those landowners will hire people, they'll buy the supplies to do the work to get those roads done. So there's an immediate impact, but it's also looking forward to allowing landowners to manage their land by having the proper access that they need," he said.

Rankin was accused of caving into the forest industry when he diluted elements in his signature piece of legislation since becoming premier earlier this year.

The Biodiversity Act was billed as a way to protect the environment, but was assailed as government overreach on private land in a campaign organized by the sector.

Those fears were dismissed by environmentalists, but Rankin stripped provisions on penalties from the legislation.

'We need to evolve our practices'

On Monday, Rankin again defended the act and said the province is moving toward a more sustainable model of forestry called for by Lahey in 2018.

"I believe that we can grow traditional sectors and at the same time modernize and keep them competitive. And for forestry, we need to evolve our practices. I'm happy that we have industry collaborating now with environmental non-profits and we're moving forward with the report. We've accomplished many of the recommendations that we're going to continue," he said.

The province will spend $2 million for silviculture and $1 million for roads on private woodlots.

It will spend $1 million for silviculture and $400,000 for roads on Crown land.

The Association for Sustainable Forestry will receive $330,000 for training in pre-treatment assessment.

The Canadian Woodlands Forum will get $670,000 to train contractors in new methods and prescriptions associated with ecological forestry.