Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Nova Scotia Action Plan for Natural Resources


Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (August, 2011). From Strategy to Action, An Action Plan
for the Path We Share, A Natural Resources Strategy for Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Department of Natural

From Strategy to Action
" Sustainability, Diversity, Collaboration, Transparency and Informed Decision Making. These are the values that guide our 10-year natural resources strategy. The strategy marks a departure from traditional natural resource management and is inspired by a vision of a sustainable and prosperous future—a vision described to us by Nova Scotians and reflected in jobsHere, the economic plan for Nova Scotia. As the foundation for the government’s extensive agenda of change, the principles inherent in that economic plan give direction to this strategy and the actions that flow from it. "
Thu, Aug 18 
There’s no positive change in sight for Nova Scotia’s forests. While the just-released Natural Resources Strategy for 2011-2020 contains positive language about collaboration and new directions, the Nova Scotia government has failed to deliver on the challenging issues of reducing clearcutting and eliminating whole-tree harvesting.

The government’s solution to clearcutting, apparently, is to define clearcutting so narrowly that it nearly no longer exists. In fact, under the government’s narrow definition of a clearcut, I would hazard the 50 per cent goal has already been reached. As long as a few scattered trees are left standing on the harvest site, then presto, a clearcut is no longer a clearcut. The strategy contains no guidance or action for a real shift to uneven-aged harvesting methods.

Reducing clearcutting by a simple change of definition is hardly original. The forestry industry has used this smoke-and-mirrors method for years to try to convince the gullible that leaving behind a smattering of trees means that a clearcut is no longer a clearcut. Our government seems to have caught on to the practice.

And what of the government’s consistent promise to eliminate whole-tree harvesting? Gone. Now the government is committing to develop, sometime over the next six months, rules for whole-tree harvesting.

What does the strategy offer? One promise has been kept — to eliminate the $600,000 in public funding for herbicide treatments. Unfortunately, the language used in the strategy on this issue is archaic, referring to hardwood trees targeted by herbicides as nothing more than "weeds" that can still be removed with the help of other publicly funded programs.
What else? After more than three years of public consultation, expert panel reports and stakeholder meetings, the government has concluded that collaboration with forest stakeholders and commitment to good governance should be priorities at the Department of Natural Resources.

All in all, the government’s new 10-year strategy is high on process, but hollow on meaningful action: It’s a disappointment and a wasted opportunity to listen to Nova Scotians’ call for meaningful change. As the government talks about collaboration and good governance, Nova Scotia’s forests will continue to be clearcut, and whole-tree harvesting will increasingly ravage Nova Scotia’s landscape.

Jamie Simpson is a professional forester and the author of Restoring the Acadian Forest, A guide to forest stewardship for woodlot owners in the Maritimes.

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