Environment featured

“Our voices really can make a difference” – Cape Breton’s threatened marten population gets a break

American Marten

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Department of Lands and Forestry (DLF) confirmed that a proposed Cape Breton clearcut within an area designated as a marten habitat management zone has been downgraded to a less impactful commercial thinning.

The Nova Scotia Advocate reported on this issue in early December.

See also: Proposed clearcut in Cape Breton threatens endangered martens’ habitat, local naturalist fears

“Based on review of the pre-treatment assessment data by the licensee, they determined that the appropriate prescription was a commercial thinning,” writes Deborah Bayer, a communications advisor at DLF. The licensee in question is Port Hawkesbury Paper.

Adam Malcolm, who lives in Cape Breton, is the administrator for the recently founded Facebook group Stop Clearcutting Unama’ki (Cape Breton), which is where he originally raised the alarm. 

Malcolm noticed a new designation of commercial thinning for the lands in question on the DLF mapping system, however, the prior designation of 10% retention was not removed. 

Malcolm was pleased when we read him the email from DLF.

“Marten are to be protected and nurtured back into a healthy-sized population. I’ve been speaking with people who have worked on the marten recovery project and there’s very little consensus on how successful these efforts have been. There’s just not a lot of data right now,” he says.

The American marten (or pine marten) is a member of the weasel family and is one of Nova Scotia’s rarest mammals.

Martens, like the mainland moose, are listed as endangered under the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to trap or kill martens, or to damage their dens. In 2005 there were an estimated 50 martens left in the Cape Breton Highlands. DLF believes things are gradually improving, based on recent evidence of breeding activity.

Although DLF will never confirm it, Malcolm believes the submissions from environmentalists all across the province played a role in the change.

“Nova Scotians should feel encouraged by this,” he tells the Nova Scotia Advocate. “Their voice really can in some cases make a difference. And because there’s more and more eyes on these matters all the time. we’re beginning to be heard more.”

“When that proposed clearcut was posted within the Marten habitat management zone I just started putting out the word about what this was all about. 10% variable retention means clearcut, which is really going to be devastating,” he says.

“My advice to activists is to stay engaged and to help get the word out. We’re going to keep fighting for our wildlife and our wild spaces. I’m not against forestry, and anyone who wants a job in forestry should be able to get one. My issue is with devastating the forest landscape to the point where creatures that have lived there for millennia can no longer live there.”

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