An­napo­lis County coun­cil look­ing for an­swers af­ter forestry faux pas

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR AN­NAPO­LIS ROYAL

When An­napo­lis County’s mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil heard in late De­cem­ber that yet more crown for­est was up for pub­lic com­ment and pos­si­ble har­vest, War­den Tim­o­thy Habin­ski said coun­cil would meet dur­ing the hol­i­days to dis­cus the mat­ter and for­mu­late a re­sponse.

By the time it met on Jan. 3 the De­part­ment of Lands and Forestry said those posted parcels of land be­tween Cor­bett and Dal­housie lakes south of Bridgetown had al­ready been ap­proved for har­vest and the post­ing on the Har­vest Plan Map Viewer in De­cem­ber had been a mis­take.

Coun­cil­lors didn’t know what to think of the con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion that was only re­leased late in the day on New Year’s Eve.

“We re­ally need a clear un­der­stand­ing of ex­actly what it is the prov­ince is stat­ing, what it has done, ex­actly how closely they fol­lowed their own process,” said Habin­ski in a Jan. 7 in­ter­view. “We can’t do an aw­ful lot un­less we have clar­ity on those is­sues, so coun­cil made a res­o­lu­tion to di­rect the CAO – which means all of staff – to get in touch with the prov­ince and clar­ify ex­actly what the rules are sur­round­ing this kind of a cut and how that process was fol­lowed, or not fol­lowed, by the prov­ince in this in­stance.”

Habin­ski said he’s hear­ing three dif­fer­ent sto­ries from mul­ti­ple sources and coun­cil needs to be clear on it be­fore it can take any mean­ing­ful ac­tion.

Cause For Con­cern

Back in De­cem­ber, things were a lot more sim­ple.

“It’s cer­tainly cause for con­cern,” Habin­ski said just be­fore Christ­mas about the pro­posed har­vests, “and I think coun­cil as a whole will be con­cerned about this. It’s of suf­fi­cient im­por­tance.”

He said in that De­cem­ber in­ter­view coun­cil would de­cide what its re­sponse should be. At that time coun­cil be­lieved it would have been able to com­ment on the pro­posed har­vest up un­til Jan. 19. What they didn’t know was the first stage of a two-stage har­vest had al­ready taken place.

Bi­ol­o­gist Donna Cross­land was among 18 con­cerned cit­i­zens who walked those two parcels of crown for­est Dec. 26 to dis­cover the south par­cel had al­ready been har­vested along with part of the north lot.

Like mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, she and oth­ers are try­ing to find out what hap­pened and she’s less gen­er­ous than Habin­ski.

“As a per­son who worked dili­gently to present ob­jec­tive and peer-re­viewed sci­ence on forestry dur­ing the Nat­u­ral Re­sources strat­egy, I am sad­dened to pro­fess that sci­ence-based logic does not re­sult in mean­ing­ful changes in how gov­ern­ment con­ducts forestry in Nova Sco­tia,” she said. “No other val­ues other than short-sighted eco­nom­ics are con­sid­ered - not starv­ing wildlife, fewer fish in streams, soil ero­sion, car­bon sci­ence, cli­mate change, flood abate­ment, value- added for­est in­dus­tries (un­sup­ported), nor soil nu­tri­ents (that are) so de­pleted they re­sult in slow­ing fu­ture tree growth, or healthy forests for our chil­dren.”

Take a Stand Cross­land said when ba­sic sci­ence and en­light­en­ment fail, the cit­i­zens of Nova Sco­tia must “take a stand to pro­tect the last stand of for­est, our nat­u­ral her­itage nearly en­tirely de­stroyed.”

She said peo­ple need to in­crease the watch over the forests - ver­ify forests across the prov­ince prior to and post-har­vest.

“We, the peo­ple, must halt the grow­ing biomass in­dus­try, the toxic pulp mill, and shift fo­cus to restor­ing dam­aged forests for the ben­e­fit of all for­est dwellers whether the lichen or the marten,” she said, “and build­ing in­dus­tries that uti­lize higher qual­ity and value-added prod­ucts that gen­er­ate greater eco­nomic re­turn. We do all these things for a healthy for­est and for our grand­chil­dren; for seven gen­er­a­tions as the Mi’kmaq so wisely tell us.”

She said a good start to be­com­ing a bet­ter ‘ for­est pro­tec­tor’ is to:

1) View the film ‘ Burned,’ to be shown in East Dal­housie (near the heart of some re­cent biomass cuts) and in Bridgetown this month. Learn more about what is hap­pen­ing in Nova Sco­tia forests and what you can do in dis­cus­sions that fol­low the movie.

2) Write or speak with your lo­cal MLA about forestry con­cerns.

3) Sit in the for­est.

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