For years NSDNR has approved aerial spraying of glyphosates on our forests. The intent is to kill hardwoods and clear the way for quick growing, more immediately profitable softwoods to make kraft pulp. In other words, support monoculture and eliminate diversity. Environment Minister Margaret Miller has been convinced by industry that it’s a good idea. Don't worry, be happy, she says, glyphosates are approved by Health Canada. But is she getting the best advice? The World Health Organization, dozens of class action suits, and now a compelling study seems to suggest she’s not. Since it’s introduction in 1974, use of the herbicide, often sold under the trade name Roundup, has increased a hundred fold. Now it’s a crisis.
Read the attached recently published paper and see if you think Minister Miller is making the right decision.
A whacky title? Trees talk? Well don't take it from the HFC, listen to UBC's Dr. Susan Simard.
Oblivious to the vital world beneath our feet, the busy network of soils, roots, and fungi, Canada continues to harvest its forests at 4X a sustainable rate like there's no tomorrow. Indeed, there won't be if we don't make some changes, like now.
In other blog entries we've talked about current harvest practices and how they deplete our soils. Well, check out Dr. Simard's TedTalk below, or check out her recent Quirks & Quarks episode. Learn about the work of Dr. Simard and her team. If her arguments change the way you look at forests, as we sincerely hope they do, please, spread the word. Like or link to this post, and help get people turned on to what's happening.
To paraphrase Dr. Simard, we need to do four things:
1.) We have to get out into the forest and learn about it. Driving by on public highways shielded by protective buffers which screen what's really going on is clearly not enough. Learn about forest systems. They are essential to our survival on this planet.
2.) We have to save old growth forests. They are repositories for the vital biodiversity which will equip forests to withstand climate change. Without diversity of species, our forests are doomed. We don't have to stop all harvest, but we have to cut back and change the way we do it. Elsewhere on this blog are links to Global Forest Watch. See for yourself how Nova Scotia intends to harvest right up to the Kejimkujik Park gates just like the BC's harvest right up to Banff National Park.
3.) We have to save our "mother" or "hub" trees. Listen to Dr. Simard explain her research, how big mother trees use underground fungi threads to transmit life to their offspring, and encourage neighbouring species that protect and enhance their genepool. Trees are definitely not inanimate objects. Again, clearcut and spray to convert the mixed species and uneven ages of old growth to an industrial monoculture, and we will kill our forests.
4.) We have to take steps NOW to regenerate our forests with diverse species so they can adapt to the huge climatic challenges they are about to face. A self-righteous nation, Canada thinks of Brazil and their over-harvest of the Amazon as the big culprits, but we have even more sap on our hands.
While you may have been sucked in by the big budget government-industry Forest NS video full of happy young faces and laced with words like "healthy and sustainable," "a "legacy for Nova Scotians," and their core message, "No one loves the forest more than the people who care for it," you might want to take a look at these two videos by serious documentary filmmaker Kent Martin featuring two real heroes of NS forestry, veteran forester Ralph Wheadon and biologist Dave Patriquin. Indeed, you might want to watch another lovely film of Kent's on Windhorse Farm, Raising Windhorse.
Here you go, two real heroes...
PS: Thanks a million to Kent and the Five Bridge Lakes Wilderness Heritage Trust for making these productions available.
Dear Premier McNeil,
You are getting bad advice from the Department of Natural Resources. For example:
Backward policies and initiatives, our province lags seriously behind states, provinces, territories, and countries which are setting examples which we could emulate.
In short, Mr. McNeil, it is not the volume of wood we cut, but how we cut it that is important.
Per the Natural Resource Strategy, the alternative is to work with willing Nova Scotians, indigenous people, industry, academia, communities, and the general public, people who helped draft the Natural Resource Strategy, people who have written to you or spoken with you, who on a volunteer basis have dedicated years of their lives to this cause, to draft and implement wise policies to utilize our forests to best effect. "Netukulimk" is the Mi'kmaq word, I believe - live now with respect for seven generations down the road.
For the sake of our forests and for our future, we appeal to you once again to listen and act on these arguments. You are getting less than half the story.
A document released by the Ecology Action Centre documents key steps backwards in the Nova Scotia government’s commitments to the 2011-2012 Natural Resources Strategy for forestry as expressed in the 5-year update released 2 days ago. “The update indicated that DNR is …developing a new Crown Land Forest Resource Management Policy that abandons the 2011 clearcutting reduction policy, allows continued whole‐tree harvesting (harvesting tops and branches to feed biomass markets), may reinstate public funding for herbicide application and once again permit herbicide spraying on Crown lands. DNR has also abandoned plans to implement a provincial annual allowable cut.”
(Jack Pine blog post, NS Forest Notes)
Attached is a little, almost unnoticeable notice, that was in Friday's Herald. Northern Pulp labeled this a "Vegetation Management Notice" but it translates more accurately to: 'Northern Pulp set to aerial spray glyphosate throughout Colchester and Halifax Counties.'
Although the spray compound may be called 'Vision' and sound rather harmless, its main active ingredient is glyphosate which is the same active ingredient used in RoundUp. The herbicide is used to promote the growth of softwoods by killing the foliage and hardwood trees that compete with the desired spruce trees that Northern Pulp uses to make their product. Basically anything with a leaf dies or is substantially set back and only the trees with needles prosper.
Although this chemical has been banned for some uses in some Canadian Provinces and other regions of the world it will be aerial sprayed over large amounts of woodland areas here in the Province between August 25 and October 10.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of this chemical. You could read articles for days about it's carcinogenic effects to humans but on the other hand, its 'importance' in the agriculture and pulp and paper industries. There are also concerns about its effects on honey bees and other critters of the wild -http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/glyphosate
The bottom line is that Northern Pulp / Paper Excellence / Asia Pulp and Paper is using it to kill foliage and hardwood trees.
This herbicide spraying had mostly stopped when the Government of Nova Scotia had stopped footing the bill for it. But we did hear that Northern Pulp had been pressuring the government to begin paying for this procedure again. Has the provincial government also caved on this? Write to Premier Stephen MacNeil, PREMIER@novascotia.ca - Natural Resources Minister, Lloyd Hines email@example.com - Environment Minister Margaret Miller Minister.Environment@novascotia.ca and ask them.
Published Tuesday, August 02, 2016
by Common Dreams
'The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. They are playing out before us, in real time' Climate Change is Here and Now, Dire NOAA Report Warns
Nadia Prupis, staff writer
Back in April, Peter Ritchie wrote Hon. Michel Samson Minister for the NS Department of Energy, outlining the evidence that forest biomass actually produces more CO2 than coal, and asking “At a time when Canada, along with 195 other countries, has committed to reducing its green house gas emissions, how can the Nova Scotia government actively support the generation of electricity from a fuel which is (at least) 50% more CO2-intensive than coal? At a time when carbon pricing is finally set to become a national priority, how can Nova Scotia justify the attendant costs, ultimately borne by ratepayers, which will come with this essential price on carbon?
Receiving no response, Peter wrote again on June 21 and finally received a response on July 25 prepared by Nova Scotia Depts. of Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy. The best they could come up with was “We recognize that the science around forest biomass carbon accounting is evolving”, while touting the amendment of Renewable Electricity Regulations so that the Port Hawkesbury biomass plant is no longer a "must-run" facility and stating that “harvest of primary forest products for all uses from Nova Scotia… remains within sustainable harvesting levels.”
I guess we should all sleep well.
Since the Paper mill half-reopened at Point Tupper, we have looked on in disbelief at the vast areas that have been clear cut, especially the hardwoods in Cape Breton. NSP have built and run a very large biomass electric power generating plant alongside the mill so as to provide steam and electric power for the mill. Many transport trailer loads every day arrive at the mill from Nova Scotia Crown land forests.
Last week we read a Government announcement that they are looking for other uses for N.S. forests. This is baffling because the huge biomass clear cutting to feed the point Tupper boiler left at least four sawmills in eastern N.S. short of logs. When sawmills shut down, there is less waste wood material available to ship for the Point Tupper boiler. The result is more trees must be cut to sustain power and steam production. Apparently saw logs were being chipped to feed the NSP plant.
Let's look at CO2 absorption by trees. Saplings store as much as 48 pounds of CO2 by age 10. By age 40 each tree may be storing one tonne of CO2. These numbers are highly variable depending upon the soil nuitrients, soil water during growing season, sunlight days, air quality and length of growing season. An acre of trees may sequester 2 to 6 tonnes per year as well as some sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone. (International Society of Arboriculture)
The typical Acadian forest is mixed species and of multiple age trees. White Birch, Poplars and Balsam Firs have short life spans of 30 to 75 years. Spruce and Pines have medium life spans of 100 to 200 years. Hard Maples, Oak, Beech, Yellow Birch have longer lives of 100 to 325 years. As they grow bigger and taller, they capture and store more CO2 from the air. An acre of mixed species trees of varying ages can absorb enough CO2 over a year to equal the amount of CO2 produced by a medium size car or pickup truck driven 42000 KM. Driving an economy car on gasoline for 20,000 KM/year puts about 6 tonnes of CO2 out into the air. A heavy truck fuelled by diesel driven 80,000 KM/year puts out about 104 tonnes of CO2/year. (North Carolina State University)
Thus, if we do the math, we see that it may take 400 saplings growing robustly to absorb the CO2 from an economy car per year. Trees only absorb CO2 during the growing season. Other seasons the CO2 falls into the oceans or rises far up into the upper atmosphere and adds to the greenhouse gases there.
The heavy diesel truck above will need as many as 7600 saplings to absorb the CO2 it puts out. Or about 104 of the age 40 years plus trees to absorb its output of CO2. Forest acreages contain from 150 to 700 maturing trees per acre.
Here's where I'm going with this: The biomass-fuelled electric/steam plant at Point Tupper is hauling in excess of 20 trailer loads per operating day (some say as many as 50 loads/day). Often these loads include prime mature hardwoods, which make more BTUs than softer woods. Each load contains 50 to 100 trees of ages 30 to 150+ years of age. Two or three loads can clear an acre of hardwood. Thus removing about 175+ tonnes/acre of storage for CO2 for a very long time.
The highway tractor trailer, like the one above driving 80,000 to 100,000 KM/year, is one of many hauling the cut wood from the forest to the mill. Each puts out in excess of 104 tonnes of CO2/year. Then we add the CO2 put out by the cutting and forwarding machines plus the road building machines and the various service trucks. Cutting machines often run 20 hours a day. I can't estimate what this total might be, but it's a very big number.
The Paris agreement says that Canada will reduce CO2 emissions. Our Premier, however, didn't bother to attend this conference. His government continues to allow the clear cutting of vast forested areas thus allowing huge outputs of CO2 so that a biomass plant can make electricity and steam. And the Province has lost an incalculable amount of trees that could be absorbing CO2 in the stems, trunks and roots. That's a double loss. The roots slowly give up the CO2 over many years after the tree is cut.
And they plan to increase biomass cutting of trees.
When the totals are counted, clear cutting for biomass is anything but GREEN. It's madness. There are affordable alternatives if only they would stay up-to-date on technologies. HRM / Solar City are showing one way forward. Townhomes using geothermal for heat and cooling is another.
Guest blogger, D.G. Wilson, Brule Point, N.S.