Remember just last year Canadians' outrage at Stephen Harper's gagging of scientists? Decision-based fact making vs. fact-based decision making? Well, it would appear that it's happening right here right now in Nova Scotia.
When Nova Scotia Environment ecologist Robert Cameron suggests in a public presentation that "the level of forest harvesting on the landscape is ecologically unsustainable," the associate deputy minister at the Department of Natural Resources, Allan Eddy, complains to Cameron's superiors at Environment. Under the subject line "Coordinated messaging," Eddy questions Cameron's science and says such "broad ranging and powerful statements" could be embarrassing for his Minister (Hines). He calls for "a discussion on how best to ensure staff approach such issues with a more corporate consideration of potential impacts." More corporate consideration, indeed.
Dogged investigative journalist Linda Pannozzo FOIPOPPED Eddy's correspondence and, in a brilliant piece still behind the Halifax Examiner paywall (you should subscribe - it's only $10!), she explains the issue, the disappearing Boreal Felt Lichen, and how that relates to another endangered species: the Nova Scotian scientist.
Note: Jack Pine has more information on Linda's piece in his Forest Notes AND in case you missed them, this blog links to three other damning articles by Linda Pannozzo for the Halifax Examiner on the sick state of Nova Scotia's forestry. Thanks for your excellent work, Linda!
Under the title "SCIENCE NOT ACCEPTED", the Chronicle-Herald published the following from the HFC's Bob Bancroft and Donna Crossland:
Mike Parker’s forestry article (Oct. 29) brings to mind the provincial government-sponsored phase 2 science panel in 2009-2010 that followed Voluntary Planning’s comprehensive public consultations. The forest panel consisted of the two of us as well as Jon Porter — all with academic credentials. We were to apply scientific knowledge to the demonstrated public will for change.
Mr. Porter was a woodlands manager for a pulp company at the time. Time and time again we would put relevant science on the table that Porter would dismiss, yet offer no other perspectives other than the status quo to forest management.
Mike Parker has it right — they ignore the science.
Porter’s pulp company subsequently went under and he lost the job. He’s now a senior bureaucrat in the Department of Natural Resources.
Our Nova Scotia forests are being run on the same broken, outdated, doomed business model as Porter’s pulp company.
We need a change of command.
Donna Crossland, Tupperville
Bob Bancroft , Pomquet
You might also want to pick up a copy of Mike's latest book, Nebooktook, In the Woods.
This video came to our attention courtesy of the NS Advocate, an online publication penned by Robert Devet. The Advocate's slogan, "The tyrant's foe, the people's friend." Appropriate words if you take a look at this short drone video of lands which are the source for many of Cape Breton's rivers including the famous Margaree. Check out the article and the Advocate at https://nsadvocate.org/2016/10/22/fiber-farming-the-cape-breton-highlands/.
In a series of articles for the Halifax Examiner, journalist Linda Pannozzo chronicles her efforts to get forest data from NSDNR. After an amazing runaround, she has to FOIPOP the department. Instead of clear answers to her questions, she gets proof of collusion between the department and industry.
These articles are reprinted with permission. The third article is still behind the Examiner's paywall, but it's a great read, as is the Examiner - subscriptions highly recommended.
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)