Satellites Reveal The Clearcut Truth

Dear Friends,

In case you missed it, here is a link to an excellent article from Saturday’s Herald speaking against current forestry practices in Nova Scotia by Donna Crossland:

>Satellites reveal forest loss is more serious in N.S. than the government would have you believe<

Donna is a member of the Healthy Forest Coalition. Friends of Nature is proud to be a founding member of this coalition.

>I’ve also attached a PDF version of the article here.<

Syd Dumaresq
Chair, Friends of Nature


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?

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.


    • 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.


  • 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: “”; “”

Subject: Blue Mountain Birch Cove Lakes Urban Park


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

63rd Annual General Meeting with Guest Speaker Silver Donald Cameron

The public is welcome to attend the 63rd Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Nature.

Come and meet renowned author Silver Donald Cameron, who will give us an update on his Green Interview project, and noted wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft, who will lead us in a discussion on the negative impact of the use of forest biomass to generate electricity.

Learn about progress being made by the Healthy Forests Coalition in slowing the use of forest biomass. Friends of Nature is a valued member of this coalition.

All welcome, refreshments will be served.

7 pm Monday, May 2, 2016

St. Stephen’s Community Centre, Regent St., Chester, NS

2016 AGM poster

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