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Ban clear cutting on Crown land, favour selection management and cancel WestFor's license

This petition had 2,376 supporters

Premier Stephen McNeil,

Nova Scotians want clear cutting on our public lands to stop.  Our forests are disappearing, overharvested for the lowest possible end uses - chipped and burned in biomass plants, turned into pellets, biofuel, OSB strand board, and pulp.  Our forests are clear cut on ever shorter rotations, instead of being stewarded to generate jobs for current and future generations.  Major forest losses are seen in satellite images like the above, which depicts an area, mostly Crown land, northeast of Halifax Airport.  Tree cover loss between 2001 and 2014 is shown in pink while regrowth on older clear cuts is blue  (  The federal government's High Resolution Satellite Forest Monitoring shows that Nova Scotia has among the most intensive forest harvests in Canada (Wulder et al. 2016 DOI 10.13140;  In the 25 years prior to 2014, the last year for which forest data are available, 42% of the operable forest in Nova Scotia was clear cut.  Our Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is allowing our lands to be devastated.

 Selection management that maintains a mixed, multi-aged Acadian forest must be practiced on the majority of forested lands.  Clear cuts and most “partial cuts” conducted by DNR promote even aged, short rotation forestry, ideal for harvesting pulp, but detrimental to forest diversity.  The resulting forests contrast with mixed multi-age Acadian forests (i.e. red spruce, hemlock, white pine, beech, sugar maple and yellow birch).  Following rare major disturbances (such as fire), Acadian forests develop as shade tolerant trees become dominant.  The forest becomes multi-aged as trees that fall in gaps are replaced.  By DNR’s figures, disturbance regimes that naturally support our Acadian forests characterize 51% of the land base (Mapping Nova Scotia's Natural Disturbance Regimes, 2008).  Non-DNR experts put this figure much higher (>80%). Selection management can maintain our Acadian forest.  However, in 2014, selection management was practiced on only 8.3% of working Crown forests (7.3% for the province), clearly contradicting DNR’s claim that “all harvest treatments are aligned with the nature-based requirements of Nova Scotia’s lands”.    DNR must stop misleading the public. 

Public lands must be managed in the public interest.  On DNR’s watch, industrial interests reign supreme. The many benefits of intact forests to Nova Scotias are ignored. With the blessing of DNR, WestFor, a consortium of 13 mills, has become the manager of 1.4 million acres of public forest in western Nova Scotia. There is little doubt that clear cutting will be their method of choice. In 2014, statistics from the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers confirmed that 86% of Crown land harvests in Nova Scotia were clear cuts. Harvest locations are set through a complex, non-transparent process. Upcoming harvests are made public on DNR's online Harvest Viewer platform; only rarely has a large public outcry during the 20 day comment period altered their plans. Nova Scotia's taxpayers are not being allowed to plan the use of Crown land, instead we are providing large volumes of cheap subsidized wood to the mills. We must not allow this consortium of mills to manage our Crown lands. WestFor's license must be cancelled.    

Government commitments to improving forestry practices must be honoured.  In 2011, after three years of engaging the public and numerous experts, the province adopted a 10 year policy called the Natural Resources Strategy that committed to limits on whole tree harvesting and “reducing the proportion of wood harvested by the clear cut method to no more than 50% of all harvests over a five year period”.  In a major about face, the 2016 update of the Natural Resources Strategy states that the DNR won't be limited to a specific percentage of clear cutting.  Although promised in 2011, no rules have been developed to limit whole tree harvesting. Even Nova Scotia’s Auditor General has chastised DNR for failing to steward endangered species.

Government must recognize the crucial ecosystem services provided by intact forests and ban clear cutting. Clear cutting forests results in losses of wildlife habitat, increased flooding, depletion of soil nutrients, major losses of soil carbon and acidification of waterways.  Clear cutting is bad for Nova Scotia’s public image and dismays tourists. Clear cutting is like spending your savings; you use both the principal and the interest and are left with nothing for the future

Sign below to ask Premier McNeil to:

1) Ban clear cutting on Nova Scotia Crown lands. 

2) Practice selection management on the majority of Nova Scotia’s forested lands

3) Cancel WestFor’s license to manage 1.4 million acres of Crown land

Then follow up by expressing your concerns to your political representatives, the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Environment. 

Honourable Stephen McNeil                                      

Honourable Lloyd Hines                                              

Honourable Margaret Miller                          

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