Category Archives: Nova Scotia

long_lake_forest_800

Does Forestry in Nova Scotia Have a Future?

Dear Friends:

The letter below is from Geoffrey May, who is Elizabeth’s brother,  provides the best summary I have seen to date on the sad state of our forest industry and the industry regulators. Please help to spread the word.

Best wishes
Syd Dumaresq, Chair
Friends of Nature

long_lake_forest_800Dear Premier McNeil,

I have certain sympathy for your government’s inability to deliver decent forest policy. The problem stems from decades of UNB/Irving forestry school, which has trained most provincial foresters, and most forestry professionals in private and public service. These professional foresters know next to nothing about forest ecology, and have no understanding for forest structure or function. This anti-science, anti-nature forest management that has been pushed by UNB and the Irvings has resulted in reduced forest employment, reduced forest value, and destruction of non-commercial forest products.

Forests are not landscape constants, but result from ecological variables. Our temperate forests hold as much biological diversity as the great rain forests, the big difference between tropical rain forests and temperate forests, is that tropical forests have most of their biodiversity above the ground, where as our forest has most of its biodiversity in soil microorganisms.

It is in the below ground web of life that nutrients are fixed for use, that the trees of the forest are in communication. These subterranean communities are essential for forest health, yet they are destroyed utterly by the equipment used to harvest forests, rutting and compaction from equipment is a major challenge for ecosystems.

Our forest harvest is conducted by large mechanized equipment, which can only be profitably employed, by conducting large contiguous clear-cuts. However, if we managed our forests to preserve ecosystem function and maximize employment, we would ban clear-cut logging and the equipment that demands it. The current system benefits Irvings and other corporate forest destruction because reducing employment is one way to control supply costs. The current system leaves forest contractors 100% dependent on good relations with the mills who control the crown leases. Contractors needing to meet huge payments aren’t going to concern themselves with the damage they do to meet those payments, and DNR has no employees who can recognize it either.

Clear-cutting is based on the concept of forest rotation. Forest rotation is an idea that has no basis in ecology, and exists in direct opposition to what the science shows us. What science says is that forests do not rotate, they precede through successional changes to stable state, climax, or “Old Growth”, which contains all other successional stages within it. Clear-cutting represents a unique ecological challenge in that no other disaster removes the entire above ground forest structure for processing off site.

In addition to compacting and rutting of forest soils, clear-cutting exposes forest soils to direct sunlight, wind, and rain, which increases the loss of nutrients from clear-cut areas. In the forest, large woody material is converted by insects, fungi and bacteria into complex forest soils (one way that nature sequesters carbon). In a clear-cut, large woody material is desiccated, it dries out, is not home to a complex community, and the carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

Forest seedlings never form natural root systems and therefore never fully enter into the forest community. In addition to being expensive, plantations are not forests; they are brittle ecosystems, prone to insect attack, vulnerable to wind. The seedlings will require nitrogen, nitrogen is present in the soil, but needs to be “fixed” into a useable form for trees to use. In our forests the bacteria that fixes nitrogen is closely associated with pioneer hardwoods. Pioneer hardwoods serve many useful functions in attempting to reclaim the forest. They protect seedlings from excessive sunlight, wind, rain, and snow. Pioneer hardwoods help stabilize the soils, the water table, and create micro-climates that buffer extremes of heat and cold benefitting seedlings. They do not compete for nutrients or water (as the UNB/Irving School claims). Herbiciding these hardwoods does not help softwood seedlings, and there is no science that supports the theory that removing the pioneer hardwoods brings the seedlings to maturity any sooner. In fact, there is science showing that the yields from plantations rarely reach the levels from the harvest of the natural forest they replace, and none to support the forestry models that plantations can double the fibre productivity that is used to justify excessive logging.

Recent science, which I sent you this past winter, showed that in Europe the conversion of mixed wood forests to conifer plantations is a driver of global warming. The carbon stored did not offset the reduced albedo effect. Clear-cut logging is, of course, another driver of global warming. Land use changes, like clearcutting, account for 20%-30% of CO2 emissions. This was recognized by science over 25 years ago, yet we continue to harvest our forest as if climate change wasn’t happening.

All our environment and economic policies in Nova Scotia appear caught in a time warp, a vacuum. The current Herbicide spray program is based on the assumption that there will be a market for wood pulp in 60 years. It should be obvious that there won’t be. The Alton Gas project similarly assumes continued demand for, and supply of natural gas and there won’t be, unless mountains of science on climate change are all dead wrong.

Regarding Herbicides, years ago Japanese doctors were puzzled as to why patients who had deliberately ingested Round-up herbicide died. According to MDS they shouldn’t have died. They discovered that the surfactant used was 400 times as toxic as glyphosate, and that it was the polyoxyethyleneamine that allowed glyphosate to penetrate the cell wall. In registering Roundup, only the toxicity of glyphosate is considered.

We either change course and embrace a low carbon economy or there won’t be any economy at all in 60 years. Where does oxygen come from in a world at 6C Anthropogenic Global Warming?
If there is a future for Nova Scotia, it lies in accepting the reality of our situation. Forest policy should maximize employment in the forest while maximizing carbon storage. Selection logging is less energy intensive and can be conducted with a minimum of ecological impact and can increase forest stocking while increasing forest production, and there isn’t a single DNR employee working on developing selection logging appropriate for Nova Scotia.

We either embrace the future or we lose it, and right now, we are throwing the future away, and your policies are accelerating the pointless destruction of our future.

Why not make your mark? Actually make a difference in this world and do the right thing? Why not try?

Sincerely
Geoffrey May
Margaree Harbour

Two New Biomass Proposals

Dear Friends:

Ken MacRury and I attended a presentation on a Bridgewater biomass proposal and a Dalhousie Agriculture Campus biomass proposal. The presentations were organized by the Ecology Action Centre.

Here are my thoughts:

Both proposals are co-generation and both are Comfit. Dal will sell power to the grid @ $.17/kwh and will heat the campus from the biomass boiler. BW will sell to the grid and heat at least the NSCC campus and hopefully the provincial building, the courthouse a new subdivision and possibly other commercial neighbours. Both have very high efficiencies due to the co-gen aspects. Both have to be up and running in the summer of 2018 to qualify for the Comfit contract.

Bridgewater:

    • They will gasify the wood fibre. The gas will fire the generators. The by product will be charcoal which they will sell to agriculture outfits and for filtering. The proponent suggested that charcoal used as a soil amendment captures and sequesters additional carbon from the soil which might otherwise get into the atmosphere.
    • They predict no emissions from the generators.
    • 45% of the wood will be bark from Freeman’s mill. They will dry the bark at the plant using heat cast off from the gas generators
    • 55% of the wood will be stem wood from the Medway Forest Coop or from other certified producers. The stem wood would be poplar or grey birch which apparently has no other market as these species don’t make good firewood. Selling to the biomass plant was said to be important to the success of the Medway Coop.

Dalhousie:

  • They already have a wood chip boiler which has died and are replacing it with the new biomass boiler.
  • They can’t burn much bark due to the high moisture content but are committed to buying local “sustainably harvested” stem wood
  • They are well along and will probably meet their deadline due to the building already existing.
  • The electricity generated will just about offset the entire campus consumption.
  • They will have scrubbers to reduce the stack emissions
  • They seem dedicated to doing this responsibly.

My personal opinion is that these projects can both be reluctantly supported. The bad aspect is the continued destruction of our forests which would be better left intact.

The good points are:

  • High efficiencies due to co-gen
  • Good use of bark in Bridgewater, Apparently Freemans have more bark than they know what to do with (although it mostly comes from clearcutting)
  • Support of the Medway Coop which is trying to demonstrate excellent harvesting practices.

Best wishes
Syd Dumaresq, Chair Friends of Nature

Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Urban Park Update

Dear Friends,

Last night I attended the public meeting on the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Urban Park.

I have never seen so many angry, but well behaved people in one room. The room, designed for 50 had at least 200 people, all mad as heck because the city gave the developers vision for developing 1300 acres adjacent to the park and would not allow any comments from the floor. Slightly one sided.

When the official meeting adjourned, one fellow suggested the rest of us re-convene for a discussion, the city turned off the mic!

We have two weeks only to make our feelings known to the city and it must be in writing.

Below is my letter. I encourage you to send your own, or cut and paste mine, if you are in agreement.

Many thanks
Syd Dumaresq, Chair Friends of Nature

Sample Letter

Mail To: “clerks@halifax.ca”; “linda.mosher@halifax.ca”

Subject: Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Urban Park

Hi,

It was very disappointing to attend last night’s meeting and not be able to voice an opinion. The whole process seems to be a way to express the developers’ opinions, not the citizens.

When Point Pleasant park was leased in 1866 I am sure the 190 acres appeared huge compared to the size of the city. Look at it now, being loved to death.

In 1908 when Sir Sanford Fleming donated his Dingle estate on the Arm to the Lieutenant Governor in trust for the City of Halifax, it seemed like a huge piece of land in the middle of nowhere, but it was gratefully accepted. Look at it now! A treasured place of refuge surrounded by urban development.

Halifax has a similar opportunity now in an area where 10 story apartments are springing up overnight like mushrooms. Although 4500 acres seems like a lot of land now, it is entirely appropriate for the current size of the city and the density of development proposed for the immediate area. To lose the opportunity of acquiring the final 1300 acres while they remain undeveloped is a once in a life time opportunity.

Undeveloped forest consumes and sequesters carbon, protects water courses, provides a refuge for wildlife and a refuge for humans.

Now is the time to open the municipal wallet, negotiate a fair price and purchase these two parcels.

Our great grandchildren will thank us.


Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Urban Park Set Back

Dear Friends,

The long awaited Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Urban Park behind Bayer’s lake has just received a huge setback. It was proposed 10 years ago that HRM would buy out two large landowners to round out the park boundaries and include Susie’s and Charlie’s Lakes in the park.

A recent facilitator’s report has recommended that rather than have HRM buy the land we allow large portions of the land to be developed, all the way down down the shores of these lakes, severely diminishing the value and extent of the park.

This is the developers’ view and this is our opportunity to present the peoples’ view.

The attached info from EAC explains the situation well (Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Park handout).

Please come to the public meeting to show support for the park tonight, Monday, June 20 @ 7:00 pm at the Future Inn, 30 Fairfax Drive. It is the hotel near the intersection of Lacewood and the Bicentennial Highway.

I apologize for the short notice. I feel HRM is trying to fast track this report with a minimum of publicity. No one seems to know much about it.

If you can’t make tonight it please write HRM to show council that an urban park is more important than developers profits.

Many thanks
Syd Dumaresq
Chair, Friends of Nature

Biomass Use Reduced: Government Ends Must-Run Regulation

biomass harvests in Nova Scotia. Northern Pulp Corp
Biomass harvests in Nova Scotia done by Northern Pulp Corp. (photos copyright Jamie Simpson)

We have a partial victory on the Biomass campaign, thanks to the petition and the hard work of the Forest Coalition of which Friends of Nature is a member!

This press release came out today. Stopping the must run status of the Port Hawkesbury plant is a start but our ultimate goal is still to shut it down or convert it to natural gas.

Click here to read Press Release: Government Ends Must-Run Regulation, Reduces Biomass Use

 

Is Forest Biomass Energy Green?

Is forest biomass energy green?

biomass harvests in Nova Scotia
biomass harvests in Nova Scotia. Photo copyright:  Jamie Simpson

As it turns out, burning Nova Scotia’s forests for electricity can put more carbon into the air than burning coal, at least for a few decades. Why? Burning trees to make electricity is inherently inefficient. Most of the energy in a tree is wasted “up the chimney” when burned for electricity. Plus, biomass harvesting can deplete carbon stored in forests. So far, most governments have been slow to respond to the overwhelming science on the down-sides of biomass energy. The State of Massachusetts, however, brought in minimum efficiency regulations to make sure that “dirty” biomass plants would not receive government subsidies. If Nova Scotia were to do the same, then Nova Scotia Power’s Port Hawkesbury biomass plant would be too dirty to qualify as renewable energy.

Of course, forest biomass electricity is not only questionable from a carbon emissions perspective. Removing the majority of biomass from a forest can devastate biodiversity, and reduce the productivity of forest soils.

Is there a good form of biomass energy? Yes. Burning wood that is cut from well-cared for woodlots to heat buildings can help to reduce carbon emissions, provided the wood is burned in highly efficient woodstoves or furnaces.

For more information, please read the Biomass Report from the East Coast Environmental Law Association, written by Jamie Simpson. Click here to download.

The following images are all of biomass harvests in Nova Scotia done by Northern Pulp Corp. (photos copyright Jamie Simpson)

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ATV Use in Protected Areas

Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area
Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area, one of Nova Scotia’s newest protected Wilderness Area.
image source: https://www.ecologyaction.ca/content/ship-harbour-long-lake-wilderness-area-declared-protected-last

Friends of Nature are thrilled that our Province has committed12% of our land as Protected Areas; however, there is a strong lobby from some ATV riders to allow vehicular access in these protected areas. Such access is not currently permitted by law, for good reason. Following is a letter to the editor (Chronicle Herald) which expresses my view. Keep the faith!

– Syd Dumaresq
Chair, Friends of Nature Conservation Society

January 16, 2016

Letter to the editor re: ATV Use in Protected Areas

We are called as a people to sustain all forms of life.

Protected Areas are called Protected Areas for a reason. They are protected from resource extraction and vehicular access so that they can remain pristine. Both nature and people need motorized free areas. Wildlife need areas to live, roam, and reproduce peacefully. Our success as a people relies on biodiversity, clean water, and clean air. We are so fortunate to have 12% of our land set aside as Protected Areas.

ATV use compromises nature by impacting brooks, streams, wetlands, wildlife etc.

There still are still large areas of crown land with trails open to ATV riders and plenty of potential for more such trails on the remaining Crown land.

Surely we can leave our Protected Areas free from vehicular access for the good of Nature and the continued survival of our so called civilization.

For more information, please see:

Have Your Say on Medway River Protected Areas

It looks like another one of our new-but-not-yet-officially-designated protected Wilderness Areas is under attack and needs your help right now.

The DOE would like to protect about 20% of the former Bowater lands down in the Medway River watershed.I have been told that this is a fantastic area for wildlife and all NS flora and fauna.

The issue is that the ATV groups in that area want 100% access to the area, and at a recent meeting with the DOE and the public, no one voted to protect it. This is a sad situation as the provincial government may change their mind on protection.

I was asked by Raymond Plourde to send out some info and ask our members to respond to the government’s website to show them that we do still want the 12% protected.The comments can be sent to medwaycomments@novascotia.ca.

The time to do this is now, time is of the essence.

Below is a condensed

version of a memo from our friends at the Ecology Action Centre for more information:

On Sunday, September 20th, Matt Miller and Ray Plourde from Ecology Action Centre’s Wilderness Committee, attended a public meeting in Caledonia held by the “Society of Nova Scotians for a Sustainable Rural Economy”. Despite the rather broadly based economic theme presented as the stated intent of their Society, the meeting was entirely dedicated to the issue of motorized vehicle access (truck, car, ATV, snowmobile) to the pending Medway Lakes Wilderness Area (MLWA). The majority in the room (about 100) were there to support expanded or total vehicle access into MLWA.

The meeting was structured to allow presentations from a variety of perspectives. Amanda Lavers from Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute spoke about the role of protected areas in biodiversity conservation and impacts of roads and vehicle use on wildlife, notably trout populations. EAC’s presentation gave some background on protected areas, both globally and provincially, the need for large roadless areas, etc. and an offer was made to work collaboratively to address trail connectivity issues for the area. The meeting ended with a “vote” on three options that ranged from killing the MLWA, to allowing full use of all the roads within MLWA and finally to go ahead with the government’s proposed access plan (see below). We were disappointed that the meeting was structured to include a vote on just these three options, as it precluded an opportunity to work together to find some common ground. We did not participate in the voting. The new society’s organizers have also been making the rounds to all the municipal councils in southwest Nova Scotia, doing rather one-sided presentations and asking for support for total motorized access to the former Bowater lands.

Someone has also launched a petition for motorized access on Change.org (see: https://www.change.org/p/government-of-nova-scotia-keep-the-former-bowater-lands-open-for-public-access).

The wording of this petition is deliberately misleading, stating that wilderness areas will “completely shut down access”, with people “not being allowed the freedom to explore these forests and lakes”. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s important to note that public access to all wilderness areas in NS is guaranteed under the law. It is the use of motorized vehicles that is very limited. People are still allowed to hike, camp, canoe, fish and hunt in these areas and the MLWA actually has many access points by road and canoe launches. Both the meeting and the petition are squarely aimed at allowing seemingly unfettered motorized access within all the former Bowater lands, including those designated for protection.

It is important to note that the Medway Lakes Wilderness Area is only about 20% of the former Bowater Medway District lands and that roughly 90% of the roads in the District would still be open to vehicle use. 80% of the District and 90% of the roads for motorized use seems more than fair. This amounts to over 1,000 kms of the roughly 1,200 kms of woods roads in the Medway District, in addition to hundreds of additional kilometres of “informal” ATV trails. Wildlife needs spaces to survive and people who enjoy non-motorized wilderness recreation need places to go. This seems fair.

It is also important to note that any claims of “traditional” or ‘long-standing” access by Off Highway Vehicles are wrong. The Bowater lands were privately owned, gated and strictly controlled. ATV’s in particular were expressly banned although there was plenty of illegal use, the point being that access to ANY of these lands is a new privilege not a long-standing right.

Meanwhile on Friday, September 18th, Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) announced some minor boundary changes and major new road exclusion changes for the MLWA (see http://www.novascotia.ca/parksandprotectedareas/plan/progress/mlwa/).

As you can see from the map provided, the significant new road exclusions dissect the wilderness area through it’s core, with several additional spur roads going out in different directions. MLWA is one of the largest and most significant additions to the protected areas network announced when the final plan was approved by government. At first glance this move appears to be a capitulation to the ATV lobby for more access but as the Newsletter indicates it appears that the primary reason is to convenience timber harvesting and trucking operations at various points on the north side of the MLWA.

We have several concerns regarding Friday’s announcement by government, including:

1) Process: The Parks and Protected Areas Plan was the result of numerous rounds of public consultation culminating in the release of the final plan in 2013 to much fanfare and endorsement from all three political parties. While the plan already included too many and trail exclusions from EAC’s perspective, we supported the final product because it was the result of such a broad-based consultation. No one group got everything they wanted but the outcome seemed fair and balanced. This is a major after-the-fact change that will significantly impact the ecological integrity of the Medway Lakes Wilderness Area.

2) Impacts on ecological values and wilderness recreation:  Obviously these proposed road exclusions, which are much more generous (and egregious) than those in the final plan, will impact the MLWA. According to NSE’s profile of MLWA, the area was identified for protection for the purpose of protecting a large, road less core wilderness area and for promoting wilderness recreation. Both values will be heavily impacted by the proposed changes to the road network. The government’s own joint NSE/DNR Biodiversity Science Advisory Committee identified the area as a “key remaining stronghold for the much diminished Brook Trout, which can be maintained if the lakes and rivers of this area are extensively buffered from industrial activity and off-limits to motorized recreational access.”

It is unclear what Friday’s announcement really means. The newsletter from NSE refers to the road exclusions for MLWA as government’s “proposed approach” and they invite “comments” from the public that will be “considered”. It isn’t clear if this is a public consultation ahead of a decision or if a decision on the new road exclusion has already been made and the public is being made aware and only given an opportunity to comment after the fact.

Regardless, they are “looking for comment” so everyone who cares about nature should weigh in and help bolster the conservation message: Roads don’t belong in Wilderness Areas – send to: medwaycomments@novascotia.ca

There is reference in the government’s new newsletter to a trade-off analysis that “balances the environmental and economic costs of new road construction against the potential impacts of allowing vehicle access on the West Branch Road”, but there is no information on what the other road access alternatives were and what the associated ecological and economic impacts of other options were.

From the newsletter:

The West Branch Road is important for management of forestry activities on the Crown lands that lie to the north of the pending wilderness area. If the road is closed other roads will need to be built and trucks will have to haul timber over longer distances. Excluding this road from the wilderness area takes into consideration the impact on biodiversity associated with road construction and use. It also balances the environmental and economic costs.”

Meanwhile the ATV lobby for access to the whole area is growing.

So, again, please take a moment and speak up for real nature conservation and submit your comments to: medwaycomments@novascotia.ca and also please make plans to attend the NS Environment dept. meeting at Milford House on October 6 at 6pm. Both of these things are very important.

 Some things to ask for include:

  • No roads should be kept open at all in Medway Lakes Wilderness Area. Failing that, the absolute least amount of roads possible only. The new proposal is way more than necessary.
  • Maintain the existing gates and keep them locked except for emergencies
  • If the West Branch Road is kept open, close off the other road in the centre of MLWA.
  • If the West Branch Road is kept open, expand the MLWA to compensate for the ecological impact. Recommend adding the lands around Long Lake and upper branch of the Medway River.
  • If the West Branch Road is kept open, the government should be prepared to commit that no new logging roads will be built nearby the MLWA (since not having to build such roads is the reason given for its continued use through the Wilderness Area).
  • Release to the public the road trade-off analysis that was done to support the decision to keep the West Branch Road open.

 

 

 

 

Shell Canada Drilling on the Shelburne Bank

Dear Friends,

The Canadian Government  has just given Shell permission to drill for oil off the coast of Nova Scotia — and to let any blowout go uncapped for 21 days.

Can you join me in telling the Petroleum Board (who must approve this drilling) to refuse Shell’s application to drill in Nova Scotia?

More information and a petition to respond to can be found at:

http://action.sumofus.org/a/shell-21-day-blowout/7/7?sub=mtl

Best wishes,

Syd Dumaresq
Chair, Friends of Nature

Letter to the Editor: Uranium, Leave It Underground

Uranium, Nova Scotia
The exterior of the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station is pictured on Nov. 29, 2010, in Lepreau, N.B. Bill Black argues that uranium mining in Nova Scotia could help wean the world economy off fossil fuels. (KEVIN BISSETT / CP) Photo and caption SOURCE

After reading Bill Black’s recent article regarding uranium mining in Nova Scotia I feel compelled to write and explain why we shouldn’t do as he suggests. Continue reading