NS agreements aim for a balance in ecological forestry and economy

The Nova Scotia government has renewed two agreements with Port Hawkesbury Paper that require less logging on crown land than recommended in the 2018 Lahey Forestry Report.  (Tom Ayers/CBC - photo credit)

The Nova Scotia government has renewed two agreements with Port Hawkesbury Paper that require less logging on crown land than recommended in the 2018 Lahey Forestry Report. (Tom Ayers/CBC – photo credit)

The Nova Scotia government says renewed agreements with Port Hawkesbury Paper will be good for forests – and the economy – and will take significant steps to implement the 2018 Lahey report calling for a shift to organic forestry.

Under the agreements, the province has reduced the amount of timber the company can take from Crown land while increasing the amount it will pay to manage public and private forests.

Natural Resources and Renewable Energy Secretary Tory Rushton says the agreements strike a good balance.

“We agreed that there is prosperity for the company, sustainability for the province and still allowing us to meet our targets and goals with the Lahey Review,” he said.

Port Hawkesbury Paper agrees to the changes that have become necessary as the business model for forestry in the province has changed, said Geoff Clarke, the company’s business development manager.

Under its forest use license, the paper company can harvest up to 275,000 tons of timber from Crown land annually, down 400,000 tons.

Tom Ayers/CBC

Tom Ayers/CBC

Taking less Crown wood would mean a shift to the private sector, he said.

“It has to be like that,” Clarke said. “It is part of the premise to look more at the private lands to make up the difference in the decline in allowable crops on Crown land.

“It shouldn’t affect the amount of fiber available.”

Additionally, with the closure of Northern Pulp, Port Hawkesbury Paper has more wood waste available.

The Strait-Area plant used to get 5 percent of its supply from sawmill tailings, but that proportion has now risen to 40 percent, Clarke said.

“The model is changing and we are developing with it.”

Under the Company’s separate services agreement, Port Hawkesbury Paper will receive $5 million per year to support sustainable forest management on crown and private lands.

The fees help with ecological forestry education

That’s an increase of $3.8 million, which the province says will cover inflation and an increased focus on organic forestry.

Clarke said the increased fees will be used – in part – to train and educate private forest owners about sustainable ecological practices.

For example, he said, in some cases, more trees would remain.

Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, said he was pleased with the announcements.

Action Center Ecology

Action Center Ecology

Taking less wood from Crown lands was a key recommendation of the 2018 report, written by University of King’s College President William Lahey.

“This is a very positive thing and a direct response to the implementation of the Lahey report,” Plourde said.

“Also, a good thing is that the company itself is progressive and is working with the government and not fighting this, instead doing what Professor Lahey recommended.”

Rushton said the agreements follow full implementation of the so-called triad model of forest management recommended by Lahey.

Robert Kurz/CBC

Robert Kurz/CBC

The first portion of the triad, called the Conservation Zone, exempts 35 percent of the Crown’s lands from forestry, including old-growth forests, parks, and conservancies.

The second was introduced last year and included new guidelines for mixed-use forests that make up 55 percent of the Crown Land, which are mostly mainland Acadian forests.

In this zone, new and previously approved harvest plans must follow low-intensity practices that prioritize biodiversity.

Rushton said that Port Hawkesbury Paper is also piloting new silviculture guidelines in mixed-use boreal forests in Cape Breton.

“Still work to do”

And last month the province approved the third part of the triad, announcing that a high-production zone will make up 10 percent of the crown land, where clear-cutting will be allowed, but the contractor must improve the soil and replant the area afterwards.

“We’ve achieved a lot in the last year,” said Rushton. “There is still work to be done … and we remain committed to taking the steps to achieve those goals.”



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