Spring/Summer HFC Update
May and June 2020
This Spring brought a notable step forward in our campaign to reform Nova Scotia’s forest policies, but also frustration and disappointment.
On May 29, 2020 Judge Christa Brothers, of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, brought down her decision in the Species at Risk case in which Bob Bancroft, the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, the Blomidon Naturalists Society and the Halifax Field Naturalists accused the Department of Lands and Forestry (LAF) of ignoring its responsibilities under the Species at Risk Act. (The case is formally called Bancroft vs. Nova Scotia (Lands and Forestry) 2020 NSSC 175.
It is available at: decisia.lexum.com/nsc/nssc/en/item/479814/index.do
Essentially Judge Brothers confirmed what HFC supporters have been saying for a long time:
That the government has not enforced the Endangered Species Act.
As Jamie Simpson succinctly put it:
"The Minister (in reality, the Department) has not fulfilled some of his legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, with respect to the 6 representative species we chose:
This decision requires that the Dept. of Lands and Forestry (LAF) must carry out these duties. Judge Brothers did not impose the timelines that the naturalists requested, so we may continue to see delays, but the essential fact is that the DLF must fulfill its legal responsibilities, not only in relation to the species that were cited in the case, but with respect to all the species covered by the Endangered Species Act.
More generally the decision is a severe rebuke to LAF. It addresses Professor Lahey’s criticism that the Department has given priority to its responsibilities toward the forest industry at the expense of the other values that we all associate with the forests.
Perhaps Judge Brothers’ refusal to impose the deadlines that the naturalists asked for is a blessing in disguise as it can encourage us to press LAF to develop and implement the recovery plans that the ESA calls for. Under section 21 of the Act the LAF is required to provide certain information to ‘persons’ who ask. That includes copies of status reports, recovery plans and management plans and also copies of the advice given the Minister by the Species-at-Risk Working Group. The more we press the LAF for answers, the more likely it is that real action will be taken.
While the decision in the SAR case was hugely satisfying to everyone who has been involved in the forest policy reform campaign, other developments were disappointing or downright frustrating.
Discussions revolving around the implementation of the Lahey report are moving so agonizingly slowly, the trees themselves seem to grow more quickly. Many of us wonder whether/when the talks finally end if there will be any trees left to worry about. Perhaps Shelly Hipson expressed it best in her letter to Minister Rankin:
"Your department is not implementing Ecological Forestry. They are implementing High Production Forestry (HPF) on potentially a land base larger than the entire Bowater land. The proposed and approved harvests speak for themselves. I have added up the even-aged/clearcut treatments proposed by your department for the past two years from June 2018 to May 2020 and it totals over 46,000 acres. 46,000 acres of clearcuts and not one Irregular Shelterwood – that’s exploitative forestry.
Stalling and approving more and more destructive forestry treatments...all under the guise of the Lahey Report.
Now the focus is on HPF that is potentially 333,000 hectares of which only 13,000 hectares is non-forested vegetated alders and old fields.
And you say you are implementing ecological forestry? Show me how that is being done IN THE WOODS.
Your department might be implementing it behind a desk – but not in nature.
Because we ain’t seein’ it. And seeing is believing.
And you didn’t answer my question:
Removing 90% of a forest.
Do you ever think about the wildlife that is living there?
Only leaving 10% for them.
Isn’t that a tad bit greedy?
Nina Newington followed up with a superb interview with Mother Marion on the Diocesian Environment Network
IT'S HIGH TIME FOR A SILENT SEASON IN NOVA SCOTIA:
Lastly, this year, as with last year, nesting birds were a cause for worry as harvesters moved into previously designated cutting areas.
On May 29 Bev Wigney put the following up on the Annapolis Royal & Area Environment and Ecology FB page. It also went to the Nova Scotia Bird Protectors group, and Mike Parker shared it on Woods & Waters:
Over the next few days, you'll be hearing more about the need for a SILENT SEASON to be established here in Nova Scotia. What that means is that there would be a "time out" during peak bird nesting season -- an official period of time when forestry MUST CEASE its logging operations to allow birds to nest and raise their young so that they are fledged and ready for their impending fall migration. No longer should they be subjected to being disturbed and destroyed by forestry operations. Other creatures would also benefit from this quiet time - mammals could raise their young without being terrorized by loud machinery hacking down the forest around them. Young amphibians in vernal pools and streams in forests would have a chance to develop before being pulverized beneath the wheels of heavy equipment. Turtles would be less likely to be crushed as they cross roadways to make their way to nesting sites to lay eggs. It would be a WIN for all creatures. It would also help to prevent devastating fire events like the one that happened earlier this week and doubtless left many nests, eggs, and birds charred amongst the smoking carnage.
What can you do?
NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK UP!!! It is important to send a clear message to the politicians of this province that we are FED UP with the lousy way that nature is being treated. WE WANT CHANGE NOW! Not NEXT YEAR or the year after. THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. What all of us need to do is start sending emails, letters, making phone calls, writing to news websites, posting on social media, and doing whatever else we can to say, NO MORE! NO MORE DESTRUCTION!
Please join me in sending emails over the coming week as you hear more about the call for a
SILENT SEASON in the forests of Nova Scotia.
PLEASE SHARE THIS MESSAGE!!!
Shelly sent her message to all the members of the Legislature. Gradually those folks are getting the message. Let’s keep it up!
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Photo used under Creative Commons from DaveW99999