KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Activists with Extinction Rebellion are determined to stop the aerial application of glyphosate-based herbicides in Colchester County. That’s why they have set up several encampments in woodlots set to be sprayed sometime between now and September 30.
In September 2020 similar actions, in Hants County, contributed to an early halt to that year’s aerial spraying program in the province.
In August of this year, Nova Scotia Environment approved applications to spray 1,172 ha (2,895 acres) of private forested land in Colchester, Cumberland, Guysborough, Halifax and Hants Counties. Extinction Rebellion is asking that all spraying is halted, not just where it has a physical presence.
At this time there are two separate camps, Nina Newington of Extinction Rebellion Annapolis County tells the Nova Scotia Advocate, and there are plans for a third one. Yesterday the camp where she is staying was visited by the RCMP and the landowner, and they were told to leave. The camp was moved to an adjoining lot, but their daytime presence has not been affected.
“We wanted to keep the protest going so we didn’t want to get arrested at this time,” Nina says, explaining the move.
There is a lot of public feeling against the spraying
Support for the activists is remarkable, Nina says.
“Yesterday we encountered this woman, getting ready for hunting season. She was really angry and horrified to see the spray signs, and told people about it, but nobody felt like they knew what to do. There is a lot of public feeling against the spraying and a lot of stories of health effects from past spraying are making the rounds,” says Nina.
Daytime visitors and longer term campers are always welcome, says Nina, while emphasizing that such visits require advance notice and a bit of coordination with Extinction Rebellion.
We would be thrilled to have reinforcements. And if people live far away, but they see that the spraying is also set to happen near them, they can contact us for information about how to check out that location, and start talking to their neighbours, contact your MLA, contact your mayor or your counsellor or whatever.
The forest defenders are also asking that people write to Tim Halman, the minister of Environment. People can also call Irving, the owners of the lands to be sprayed or ARF Enterprises, the company that does the spraying, and sign an online petition and more.
Glyphosate was found to be “probably carcinogenic to humans”
Scientists are divided on whether the herbicide is safe and many of its long term effects on woodlands, soils and animals remain unknown.
Glyphosate was found to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015. A report by the British Soil Association suggests that in terms of glyphosate’s impact on soil ecosystems we know very little.
Critics have also argued that herbicide spraying supports an approach to forestry that is fundamentally flawed in that it reduces ecological diversity and stability and thus increases vulnerability to the effects of climate change.
I can’t stand by and watch this nonsense go on
Nina was also among the people camping out in DIgby County last fall to protect the habitat of a threatened mainland moose population from clearcutting. Also at the camp is Jacob Fillmore, the young man who went on a 23-day hunger strike looking to meet with Chuck Porter, at that time the minister of Lands and Forests, to discuss the fate of the mainland moose.
I asked Nina how she felt before she decided to once again brave the elements and possibly the RCMP to get her point across.
“I have a vegetable garden full of tomatoes, and I have to confess that the thought crossed my mind that I would rather be at home canning my tomatoes,” Nina says.
“But I can’t stand by and watch this nonsense go on. We need to get mobilized, and I don’t know how to do that without going out and putting my body in the way, together with others. Nothing else seems to make any damn difference. I don’t even know if this will make a difference, but you know, here we are.”
A list of suggested actions in support of the forest defenders with all the details you need can be found here.
Check out our new community calendar!
With a special thanks to our generous donors who make publication of the Nova Scotia Advocate possible.
Subscribe to the Nova Scotia Advocate weekly digest and never miss an article again. It’s free!