About Hard­wood Hill

War­den Habin­ski asks prov­ince to hold off on har­vest plans for 20-hectare Aca­dian for­est

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPECTATOR TUPPERVILLE, N.S.

The Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of An­napo­lis County is ask­ing the prov­ince to halt cut­ting on a 20-hectare piece of crown land near High­way 201 in Tupperville un­til al­ter­na­tives are found to its ‘sys­tem­atic patch cut’ ap­proach that War­den Ti­mothy Habin­ski says is not vi­able eco­nom­i­cally or en­vi­ron­men­tally.

“We strongly en­cour­age the prov­ince to hold on this har­vest op­er­a­tion un­til the in­ter­ested par­ties have a chance to ex­plore al­ter­na­tives that meet the needs of in­dus­try, the prov­ince, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and the lo­cal res­i­dents who live in the shadow of the South Moun­tain,” Habin­ski said in a let­ter to Pre­mier Stephen McNeil and Lands and Forestry Min­is­ter Iain Rankin dated Nov. 22.

Habin­ski’s coun­cil has long been con­cerned about the amount of clear cut­ting in the county and even pre­pared its own lengthy re­port on forestry that came out ear­lier this year.

County Forestry Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee chair­man Coun. Gre­gory Hem­ing walked the land in ques­tion re­cently and had a to­tally dif­fer­ent take on Hard­wood Hill than the pro­vin­cial ae­rial mapping may have con­cluded.

Wrong ap­proach

While the pro­posed har­vest­ing of Hard­wood Hill would not be a clear cut, but rather a sys­tem­atic patch cut, the county doesn’t buy into that ap­proach.

“It’s a very spe­cific forestry man­age­ment prac­tice,” Hem­ing said in an in­ter­view. “If you look at that, you think that’s great. It’s bet­ter than a clear cut. The prob­lem I have with it is even though that may be the best of the best prac­tices with the Depart­ment of Lands and Forestry, it’s still wholly in­ad­e­quate for a cou­ple reasons.”

He said the first rea­son is that ae­rial mapping the prov­ince doesn’t iden­tify what’s on the ground.

“When you get boots on the ground the land­scape looks dif­fer­ent than it’s mapped out,” he said. “Be­cause there are mush­rooms and other sorts of things that aren’t iden­ti­fied. But go out there with a bi­ol­o­gist and you can see those. So that’s a prob­lem eco­log­i­cally.”

Habin­ski noted ob­ser­va­tions of ecol­o­gists and bi­ol­o­gists who have walked the land don’t match the Nova Sco­tia For­est In­ven­tory. “Of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance is the omis­sion in the data­base of east­ern hem­lock and Amer­i­can beech,” Habin­ski said.

Eco­nomic con­cern Hem­ing’s other worry is an eco­nomic one.

“The end prod­uct of that wood that comes out of there – where does it go? What’s the end use? And if there was a dif­fer­ent for­est prac­tice that was based more on eco­log­i­cal forestry – value-added tim­ber taken from there into lo­cal mills - the value of what comes off of there would be far su­pe­rior than where it’s go­ing now.”

Habin­ski said in his let­ter to McNeil that lo­cal res­i­dents have ex­pressed sig­nif­i­cant con­cern and op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed har­vest and a cit­i­zen pe­ti­tion is be­ing signed. Res­i­dents are wor­ried about soil ero­sion and drink­ing wa­ter qual­ity, among other things.

“We ex­pect ad­di­tional sig­na­tures as this pro­ject be­comes more pub­lic in the days and weeks to come,” Habin­ski said, adding that he’s con­cerned about the no­ti­fi­ca­tion, re­view, and com­ment process used by the depart­ment.

“Due to the high num­ber of res­i­dents who ex­pressed sur­prise at this har­vest, we have con­cluded the depart­ment must se­ri­ously re-eval­u­ate its pro­to­col,” Habin­ski said, adding the Har­vest Plans Map Viewer needs to pro­vide more pre­cise in­for­ma­tion of har­vest plans with re­gard to par­tial cuts, in­clud­ing size of patches, re­turn in­ter­vals for fu­ture harvests, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of legacy trees, and the spe­cific vol­ume of trees to be har­vested.

The war­den said the county is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned that other en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial, and eco­nomic val­ues of crown land have been ig­nored in the pro­posed Hard­wood Hill har­vest, not­ing ever since the 1984 Re­port of the Nova Sco­tia Royal Com­mis­sion on Forestry there has been a move away from ‘forests for in­dus­try only’ to a more bal­anced pol­icy that rec­og­nizes the en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial, and eco­nomic val­ues of crown land.

Halt cut­ting

Habin­ski said it’s note­wor­thy the pro­posed har­vest would take place on for­mer Bowa­ter lands – 555,000 acres of land re­cently pur­chased by the prov­ince for $114.4 mil­lion.

“Nova Sco­tians strongly sup- ported the pur­chase of these lands with a clear vi­sion that they would be used by the pub­lic for a va­ri­ety of pur­poses,” Habin­ski said. “Nova Sco­tians also en­vi­sioned a new kind of forestry would be con­ducted on these Bowa­ter lands.”

Habin­ski also quoted the re­cently re­lease 2018 In­de­pen­dent Re­view of Forestry Prac­tices in Nova Sco­tia by Bill La­hey that said “pro­tect­ing ecosys­tems and bio­di­ver­sity should not be bal­anced against other ob­jec­tives or val­ues. In­stead, pro­tect­ing and en­hanc­ing ecosys­tems should be the ob­jec­tive (the out­come) of how we bal­ance en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial, and eco­nomic ob­jec­tives and val­ues in prac­tic­ing forestry in Nova Sco­tia.”

The gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to La­hey’s for­est prac­tices re­view was to be re­leased on Dec. 3.

“What we’re hop­ing to do, and what we’ve asked the prov­ince to do, is with­hold any cut­ting un­til we can wrap our minds around the value-added po­ten­tial and what the loss is if the prov­ince keeps do­ing what they’re do­ing,” said Hem­ing. “Even at the best of their land use prac­tices, they’re still de­struc­tive for lo­cal job cre­ation, the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. That’s the piece that we don’t have the answer to, so we need to try to hold up the cut un­til we can open a di­a­logue about lo­cal econ­omy and eco­log­i­cal forestry.”

BEV WIGNEY

This hem­lock, mea­sur­ing 75 inches in cir­cum­fer­ence at chest height, is part of a stand on Hard­wood Hill near Tupperville in An­napo­lis County. Twenty hectares of crown for­est are be­ing pro­posed for har­vest by the prov­ince. Bev Wigney, with the Face­book group An­napo­lis Royal & Area - En­vi­ron­ment & Ecol­ogy, took this photo. She and many oth­ers in the area are wor­ried about the ef­fects of such a har­vest.

BEV WIGNEY

This meadow and still wa­ter up on Hard­wood Hill is just south of the tract pro­posed by the prov­ince for har­vest. “Peo­ple fish for trout there, and some hunt for wa­ter­fowl there,” said Bev Wigney. “There was am­ple ev­i­dence of beaver ac­tiv­ity in the area.”

BEV WIGNEY

This is the south end of the pro­posed har­vest site on Hard­wood Hill. It’s mostly hem­lock, and some rather small beech trees, said Bev Wigney who walked the land with Ran­dall Fred­er­icks, another lo­cal res­i­dent.

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