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Nova Scotia environmental groups call for immediate moratorium on clearcutting

Department of Natural Resources says it has no plans for temporary ban

2 min read
caption Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, speaks at Wednesday's news conference.
Drew McConnell

Eight different environmental groups have called on the Nova Scotia government to implement a moratorium on clearcutting until the full adoption of the Lahey report.

The report, authored by University of King’s College President William Lahey, made 45 recommendations to the government about its forestry policies.

Last week, Lahey wrote a scathing review about the lack of action taken by the province since the report’s release in August 2018.

In a press conference on Wednesday, eight environmental groups responded to Lahey’s review by demanding government action.

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“The situation has reached a breaking point,” said Raymond Plourde, senior wilderness coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre.

“We do not take this position lightly, rather in light of Professor Lahey’s assessment document and the sorry history of reports followed by inaction by all three parties over more than a decade of promising change and failing to deliver.”

In his review, Lahey said that while work has begun to implement 41 of the recommendations, only 10 have progressed past the policy and planning stage.

“Work is underway on a majority of the (recommendations), although too much of it is in the preliminary stages,” Lahey wrote in his review.

“None of the work underway on the recommendations has resulted in much if any actual change on the ground in how forestry is being planned, managed, or conducted, and I have no indication of when any of it will.”

During the press conference, Plourde lamented the bureaucratic logjam within government.

“There has been a lot of busy bark, and a lot of paperwork, and a lot of thinking and studying and considering and research, and yada, yada, yada,” he said. “But the one thing there isn’t is any change on the ground.”

Nature Nova Scotia president Bob Bancroft expressed his frustrations with the Department of Natural Resource’s pace of implementing Lahey’s recommendations.

“There are ways of implementing quickly, and they didn’t do it,” he said. “They know better. It’s greed. This department is a rogue department. It has been for decades and decades.”

Bancroft, a biologist by trade, says that the inaction of government to protect and preserve Crown land has significant detrimental effects on the province’s ecosystem, threatening wildlife, and destroying habitats.

Bancroft made it clear that it is past time for a change to the province’s forest management strategy.

“It’s really a rigged system, and I agree with everyone at this table, it’s damn well got to stop,” he said.

Despite the call for a clearcutting moratorium, the province said it intends to maintain the status quo.

“The province is fully focused on implementing the Forest Practices Review and shifting to the triad model of ecological forestry on Crown land,” said department spokesperson Steven Stewart in an email.

“In the meantime, the interim forest management guidelines remain in place to significantly reduce clearcutting on all Crown lands while implementation of ecological forestry continues.”

The Ecology Action Centre and Nature Nova Scotia were joined at the press conference by the Sierra Club Foundation, Healthy Forest Coalition, Council of Canadians, Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia, Friends of Nature, and Hike Nova Scotia.

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