KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Nova Scotia NDP is calling for an immediate moratorium on all harvests equivalent to clearcutting on Crown lands throughout the province.
As the NDP’s Lands and Forestry critic Lisa Roberts explains in a letter to Minister Derek Mombourquette, this call was triggered by the encampment of forest defenders in Digby County who are trying to preserve one of the last relatively pristine habitats of the endangered mainland moose.
“We hope that you will act quickly to prevent the variable retention harvests that are planned between the Tobeatic and Silver Lake Wilderness Areas. These cuts will alter the habitat of some of the province’s last remaining mainland moose. After repeated warnings from the Auditor General and the very strong judgement in Bancroft v. Nova Scotia (Lands and Forests), it is hard to understand why these harvests would have been considered in the first place,” states the letter dated October 30th.
“There are times when a clearcut is the right approach on a given piece of land. But what we’re seeing is that, two years after the Lahey review came out, crown land harvesting practices are not making the shift that the report calls for,” Roberts tells the Nova Scotia Advocate.
“We haven’t updated the forest management guides, which is one of the significant recommendations to come out of Lahey. That’s why we’re calling for a moratorium until the forest management guides are complete, and until crown lands are assigned to the triad,” Roberts says.
The term triad, as explained in the Lahey report, refers to a categorization of crown lands as forests protected from all forestry, forests dedicated to forestry, and forests managed as ecological assets where some light forestry activities are permitted.
This call for a moratorium is urgent, Roberts explains.
“The concern if we wait any longer is that those last parcels where you could envision ecological forestry happening will already have been clearcut, and it’s really hard to start ecological forestry, when you’ve already damaged the land by that kind of harvest,” she says.
Roberts is the MLA for Halifax Needham,a neighborhood not known for its extensive forests. How did you come to be the Lands and Forestry critic, I asked Roberts, and how have you come to your current understanding?
“I have been the forestry spokesperson since 2017. I asked for that role after the election. Our caucus is small, and located in urban constituencies at this point, HRM and industrial Cape Breton. But I have long been interested in community economic development and rural economic development,” says Roberts.
“I have spent a fair amount of time learning about ecological forestry practices, meeting with the different players on the ground ever since I was elected. I really hold up a number of people working in the forestry industry who have been leading by example, demonstrating that we can create economic value from selective harvesting and from ecological forest practices, rather than aim for high volume, low value forestry,” she says,
I’m struck in conversations with people who make their living from harvesting wood, who tell me that they’re not opposed to clearcutting, but that they hate to see the woods getting fleeced, Roberts says.
“That kind of comment speaks volumes, and it gives me the confidence that it does make sense to say, enough!”
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