The changes follow recommendations by University of King’s College president Bill Lahey in a review of forest practices, which was submitted to government in August. Lahey recommended that the province reduce allowable tree harvesting on Crown land from the current 65 per cent down to 20 to 25 per cent.
"Forestry is a longstanding economic driver in Nova Scotia and it’s important we get it right. We accept Prof. Lahey’s findings and will immediately begin work to put in place the tools to achieve ecological forestry in Nova Scotia," says lands and forestry minister Iain Rankin.
He did not commit to a number for the reduction, saying that the plan "will result in significant changes to the way forests will be managed, including less clear-cutting on Crown land."
The plan includes these actions:
- Protect and enhance ecosystems and biodiversity as the department’s overarching forest policy priority
- Implement the Lahey-recommended triad model of ecological forestry, which includes conservation areas, high-production forest areas and a combination when conservation and forestry objectives are blended
- Make revisions to the Forest Management Guide to place more emphasis on ecological values in the decision-making process
- Begin a peer review of the department’s approach to natural disturbance regimes to ensure alignment with ecological forestry
- Increase the focus on wildlife and species at risk with a focus on health and recovery plans
- Improve openness, transparency and accountability of the department’s decisions
- Explore opportunities for small-scale wood energy projects to allow low-quality wood to be used in heating public buildings, such as hospitals, schools and government offices.
"These are important changes and our immediate priority is to implement them on Crown land," says Rankin. "Policy changes pertaining to private forest land will be considered when the implementation of Prof. Lahey’s recommendations on Crown land are more advanced."