LETTERS — Exceptional feedback on the ecosystem and forestry


A wonderful world

The vulnerable Atlantic whitefish is a great, but not the only, reason to avoid logging a section of land next to Minamkeak Lake. (WestFor’s application to harvest the area is now pending indefinitely).

I hunt on this land and I fish on the shores of the lake, on the sides that we wanted to cut. I’m sure with the lay of the land they knew not everyone could come in and check it out.

Besides the beautiful forest itself, there are bogs and swamps at higher levels throughout the region. They fill up in winter, and during the rainy season, streams of water flow into the lake. If you canoe along the shore, you can hear these streams flowing into the lake; they flow through ravines in the country.

You can “Google Earth” and zoom in and see bogs and swamps from space. It would be absolutely foolish to cut on these Crown lands.

It’s a great place they were talking about destroying. It is an area where wildlife is very safe because it is not very accessible. There are deer, many owls and many other species of birds, rabbits and coyotes. I saw otters. The terrain is extremely rough, jagged and rocky in some areas and there are bear dens there.

The shore is an archive of ancient history with hundreds of fossilized rocks. No problem getting photos and videos of the area. I have a lot; you just need a boat.

Governing is not just about health care, economic growth and money. It’s also about nature, our Crown lands, our wildlife and the Atlantic whitefish. This place adjacent to Minamkeak Lake just screams that it shouldn’t be cut. This would be a biologist’s dreamland. It should be left to grow this spring and checked. Only God knows how many species of plants are here. Has anyone watched besides the woodcutters?

Wendell Rogers, Camper

If a tree falls…

After Dale Smith’s op-ed “Tackling conflict of interest in the forest sector head-on” appeared on May 5, I looked forward to all the reactions it would elicit. Instead, this important and timely piece ended in resounding silence.

Was I the only Nova Scotian whose reaction to reading this excellent article was relief and excitement that someone was finally making this vital point about how our public forests are managed? Are we not all, at some level, aware that the Department of Natural Resources has always viewed its mandate as empowering the forest industry?

While the implementation of the recommendations of the Lahey report has lagged and crumbled, it seems that the prevailing agenda, despite what is said in public, is to quietly and stubbornly delay action until every tree likely to have any commercial use has been cut down. .

This is the point Smith makes in his second “disconnect” between government-backed industry interests and responsible public stewardship. It bears repeating: “While planning for protected areas and zoning of Crown lands is underway, there are no provisions in place to ensure that ongoing forestry operations avoid areas of potential conservation interest.

Even though Mr. Smith’s article did not garner the avalanche of support it deserves, I am nevertheless very grateful to him for providing a clear indication of where and how to push for effective change in the management of our forests. The primary responsibility for forest management must be removed from the hands of the government department, which sees its mandate as promoting the forest industry. This is a clear and achievable goal, and for my part, I will immediately begin writing, and encouraging others to write, to our Prime Minister and our representatives to make it happen – the sooner the better.

Frances Baldner, Antigonish

Selective use of facts to denigrate the logging industry

The irony that flows from Dale Smith’s May 5 op-ed is staggering, and the amount of intentional errors in his analysis — again — is concerning.

Smith expresses his belief that there is a “conflict of interest” with the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Renewable Energy (DNRR) which performs the dual role of regulator and promoter/builder of a sector. He makes this dual role seem out of the ordinary, if not troubling, and something Nova Scotians should demand change.

All of this is then sprinkled with a dash of misinformation and a lack of context that would lead people to believe that the sky is surely falling and that forestry gets special and preferential treatment from part of the government.

With Smith’s long bureaucratic career, I am shocked that he has chosen not to inform readers that almost every provincial government department and agency employs qualified experts whose job it is to build, improve, promote and regulate the private and public sectors in which they work.

Forestry is no different.

Sectors like tourism, agriculture and mining education, health, fisheries, culture and heritage, finance, L’nu business, transport economic development and environment … I can go on, but I think readers will understand. Each department, guided by the subject matter experts who work there, fulfills this dual role.

Smith’s call to keep forestry management away from DNRR foresters, technicians and other experts is tantamount to suggesting that people in the Department of Education should manage fisheries. The expertise and data needed to inform a science like forest management does not change with a ministerial reassignment. Smith’s biased, anti-forestry and anti-landowner views are more than evident in his regular opinion pieces here, and they show it again in this latest one.

It is also to say what Smith leaves out when he “backs up” his opinions. For example, he suggests that all Crown lands are designated for forest management and that William Lahey’s recommendations lack insight or direction towards other goals. Smith knows that of the province’s Crown lands, only 29% is available for resource use, and only a portion of that 29% is intended for logging. The remaining 70% is already designated for protected areas, wildlife habitats, wetlands, parks, water supplies, old growth forests and other values. (2016 NS State of the Forest). Lahey didn’t need to make any recommendations – they’re well understood. But Smith didn’t want you to know.

Smith should be more careful: the real conflict of his own interests is coming to light, and fair-minded Nova Scotians will see it.

Jeff Bishop is Executive Director of Forest Nova Scotia, an association of over 650 members representing woodlot owners and managers; silviculture, harvesting and trucking contractors; sawmills; paddle mills; pellet mills; maple products producers; pulp and paper mills — the entire forestry sector.


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