HALIFAX — Nova Scotians will learn more today about the future of clear-cutting and other forestry practices in the province.
The government will release its response to an independent report last August that called for fundamental changes in how trees are harvested, including a reduction in the controversial practice of clearcutting.
In the report, University of King’s College president Bill Lahey said forest practices should be guided by a new paradigm called “ecological forestry” which treats forests “first and foremost” as ecosystems.
The report advocated the adoption of the so-called triad model that sees some areas protected from all forestry; some forests dedicated to high production forestry including clearcutting; and areas that are harvested with a “lighter touch” and limited clearcutting.
It said clearcutting would be acceptable in some even-aged forests of predominantly single softwood species, although alternatives should generally be used where the forest is of the mixed-species, multi-aged variety.
Lahey’s recommended changes would reduce clearcutting from an estimated 65 per cent of all harvesting on Crown land to between 20 and 25 per cent.
He acknowledged that could result in increased clearcutting on private land as industry deals with a reduction in wood supply.
Following a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin suggested the government will move to reduce clearcutting.
“We look forward to making some changes that may impact the volume of clearcutting in the province, but it will continue to be part of the industry,” said Rankin.
He also defended the length of time it took to muster a public response.
“There is a lot of conclusions to digest … and there are a balance of considerations in terms of fibre access for our industry as well as protecting our Acadian forest.”
According to federal figures, about 90 per cent of wood harvested in Nova Scotia is clear cut.
However, Lahey’s report said about 80 per cent of forest harvesting uses clearcutting — the practice is used on about 90 per cent of private lands, and about 65 per cent of Crown lands.
It said about 18 per cent of all land in Nova Scotia is owned by forestry companies.
The Canadian Press