Jump to Navigation

Nova Scotia’s long awaited Natural Resources Strategy to be released next week

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
August 11th, 2011
Publisher Name: 
Forest Talk
More like this


Nova Scotia is finally going to release its new Natural Resources Strategy next week.

The process begin in 2007 with a citizen engagement phase, followed by a phase of technical expertise and stakeholder engagement. Originally, the province had planned to release the strategy by the end of 2010, but is release has been delayed.

The province’s current policies for its natural resources (forests, minerals, and parks) have been in place since the 1980′s are in need of renewal. The province plans to also establish a policy on biodiversity.

The new strategy is to incorporate the province’s objective to reduce clearcutting by 50% over 5 years, as well as to eliminate the removal of whole trees.

In 2009, three people were appointed by the province to develop the forests section of the new natural resources strategy. Appointed were:

  • Jonathon Porter – Manager, Forestry and Fibre Resources for Bowater Mersey
  • Bob Bancroft – Biologist, retired from Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources
  • Donna Crossland – Senior Park Warden at Kejimkujik National Park

An agreement between the three could not be reached, and in February of 2010, they produced two separate reports – one by Porter, and a separate one by Bancroft and Crossland, each proposing 5 key recommendations.

Jonathon Porter’s 5 Key Recommendations:

  1. Complete and implement the Code of Forest Practices as a requirement on Crown lands. Crown lands should include protected, extensive-management, and intensive-management areas and should be certified to an internationally recognized forest certification system (Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Canadian Standards Association, or Forest Stewardship Council).
  2. Implement a comprehensive best-management practices approach to improving forest management on private lands, rather than a conventional command-and-control approach. Encourage the use of forest management plans.
  3. Support a range of management practices, including clearcutting and herbicide application. Improved forest management decisions will increase the use of alternative harvesting methods and will lead to a reduction in the proportion of clearcutting.
  4. Implement a greatly enhanced and expanded extension effort to support the best-management practices approach and to help private land owners understand their rights and responsibilities. Develop programs to increase Nova Scotians’ understanding of the many values of our forests.
  5. Improve compliance with existing regulations, particularly the Wildlife Habitat and Watercourses Protection Regulations, and complete a full review of the regulatory framework to support the new natural resources strategy.

Read Porter’s full report

Bob Bancroft and Donna Crossland’s 5 Key Recommendations:

  1. Adopt an ecologically based, multi-aged forest management paradigm, using uneven-aged harvest approaches that produce various-sized gaps or patches to promote restoration of high-quality, late-successional trees; multi-aged stands; and meet the needs of a wide array of ecosystem components at once.
  2. Implement the Integrated Resource Management process on Crown lands, entailing pivotal approaches and new management tools that will lead the way to ecosystem-based forestry. Consider some Integrated Resource Management approaches for private lands, using educational tools, and incentives.
  3. Forest management should take a balanced approach between harvesting and ecosystem objectives that include provisions for landscape connectivity, watershed protection, wildlife, biodiversity, and predicted climate change. This will end a legacy of dry stream beds and shorten the list of endangered species needing old forest habitats.
  4. Promote strong stewardship and education initiatives to improve the land use relationships of Nova Scotians with their forests.
  5. Amend forest regulations to stop whole-tree harvesting, phase out clearcutting, and promote uneven-aged management. Whole-tree harvesting has increased during the course of this strategy and appears to be accelerating the decline of forest ecological integrity for minimal profits and few jobs. A return to removing only tree trunks will not occur
    without regulation.

Read Bancroft & Crossland’s full report

Both reports were not without controversy. Many environmentalists raised concerns that Porter had a conflict of interest as a forester working for AbitibiBowater.

The Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia commissioned a review of the Bancroft & Crossland Report by Dr. Robert G. Wagner, Director of the University of Maine’s School of Forest Resources. In his report of July 7, 2010, Dr. Wagner recognized that change is required in forestry practices in Nova Scotia but contended that “the recommendations on clearcutting, herbicides, and whole-tree harvesting by Bancroft & Crossland were not consistent with the best available forest research or with the principles of sound forest management,” and therefore believed “the underlying rationale by the Steering Panel for the regulatory restrictions of these three practices to be based on a weak scientific and/or technical justification.”

Wagner’s review was then reviewed by David Patriquin, Professor of Biology, Dalhousie University (Retired). You can read his comments here

Questions awaiting answers

Gary L. Saunders, a forester, mentioned several questions he is waiting to have answered in their new Strategy, in his article titled ‘Clearcutting: the sequel” in the July issue of the Atlantic Forestry Review.

“How big is a clearcut? What harvest alternatives will be offered where clearcutting is denied? Who’ll train us to use them properly? Will seed-tree operations – which look like clearcuts from the air – become illegal? What about last-stage shelterwood cuts? How will Premier Dexter know when he’s reached his 50:50 Clearcut:Other ratio? Will he tally provincially or in some other way? Has he any long-range plans to convert even-aged stands to multi-aged?”

Saunders is not alone. Progressive Conservative Natural Resources critic Alfie MacLeod said this week that the industry is still in the dark about how the NDP government plans to handle forestry management in Nova Scotia.

“It’s getting extremely frustrating for those who rely on natural resources as their livelihood to not know what the future holds,” said MacLeod. “Harvest time is being lost as the NDP continue to drag their feet on releasing the strategy.

“It’s been 16 months in development but this government is still unable to offer woodlot owners and operations even the most basic answers. I can appreciate taking an extra month to get it right but this is a massive delay that is costing the industry.

“The government has put the cart before the horse when they announced the clear cutting policy before explaining what their definition of a clear cut is.”

Charlie Parker, Minister of Natural Resources for the province, said in May that he expects the new strategy will set clear targets, and will define was constitutes a clearcut.

What the Strategy is expected to contain

The province previously said the Natural Resources Strategy will likely contain high level goals and objectives for the Department of Natural Resources to follow that reflect what the department heard in the citizen engagement phase, and from the two reports produced by the appointed panel. It will also likely note a number of priority actions that the Department will undertake to achieve those goals and objectives. It will articulate the strategic direction of the Department and will communicate the focus of organizational efforts and change over the next decade. Following the approval of the Strategy document the Department will identify and implement detailed operational actions that will take the department in the direction the Strategy has laid out.

What are you hoping to see in the new Nova Scotia Natural Resources Strategy?

Natural resources strategy coming soon (CBC)
Natural Resources Strategy (Government of Nova Scotia)
Porter named to strategy panel (Nova News Now)
Read Porter’s full report
Read Bancroft & Crossland’s full report
Natural Resources Strategy – Frequently Asked Questions – End of Phase 2 and into Phase 3 (Government of Nova Scotia)
Nova Scotia Natural Resources Strategy in the works (Halifax Field Naturalists)
Harvesting FAQs (Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia)
N.S. commits $5M for clearcutting changes (CBC)
Woodlot owners remain in the dark, MacLeod (PC Caucus of Nova Scotia)


Extpub | by Dr. Radut