Nova Scotia is moving towards a forestry model that protects ecosystems and biodiversity, supports economic growth, and keeps our forests healthy and sustainable.

Ecological Forestry

The province is committed to adopting a model that protects ecosystems and biodiversity, supports economic growth, and keeps our forests healthy and sustainable.

Crown land resources belong to all Nova Scotians. We want interested individuals and groups to participate in the change and understand how and why decisions are being made.

A review of forestry practices in Nova Scotia (PDF 429 KB) has provided a series of recommendations and work is now underway (PDF 78 KB) to change how we think about our forests, while maintaining a sustainable forestry industry.

These efforts are focused in three key areas:

  • Conserving Biodiversity
  • Nurturing Healthy Forests
  • Supporting Sustainable Industry

Initiatives have begun to support the independent forestry review and recommendations government received under these three themes.

  Conserving Biodiversity Nurturing Healthy Forests Supporting Sustainable Industry
Environmental Assessment
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Forest Management Guide
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
High Production Forestry
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Natural Disturbance Regimes
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Old Forest Policy
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Outcomes-Based Forest Management
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Reporting on the State of the Forest
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Small Scale Wood Energy Initiative
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry
Species at Risk Program Renewal
Conserving Biodiversity
Nurturing Healthy Forests
Supporting Sustainable Industry

An evaluation of the department's progress implementing the model will be completed later this year.

Environmental Assessment

To develop a proposed regulatory framework, for government’s consideration, to review Crown land forest stewardship plans by applicable Crown forest agreement holders either as a Class II environmental Assessment (EA) under the Environment Act or in a process that is similar to the Class II process.

Progress to date:

  • RFP issued in January 2020 to hire a consultant to develop a guide for the preparation of 20- year forest stewardship plans
  • NorthWinds Environmental Services engaged in April 2020 to develop draft guide
  • Working on identifying regulatory options

Next Step:

  • complete draft guide
  • stakeholder consultation

Forest Management Guide

This guide, which is being revised, outlines the types of forest practices that can be used on Crown lands. Interim Retention Guidelines remain in place.

Progress to date:

  • Team members, including external experts, visited Maine, Quebec, and Western Nova Scotia to explore shelterwood and retention levels in Summer 2019
  • Prepared an initial draft of the revised FMG/PTA process for targeted stakeholder input
  • Targeted stakeholder engagement on policy and proposed changes in Summer 2019
  • Targeted stakeholder consultation on revised draft in March 2020
  • Public consultation on the revised guide in Winter 2021
  • Completed the revised guide now called the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix (SGEM)

Next Step:

High Production Forestry

Working to define how and where sites are selected for high yield timber production forestry practices on Crown lands

Progress to date

  • Developed draft definition of High Production Forestry (HPF) and draft selection criteria at the provincial scale in Fall 2019 for stakeholder and public feedback
  • Public consultation via general release of Phase 1 Discussion paper in Winter 2020
  • Targeted stakeholder consultations held in-person and virtually in Spring 2020
  • Public release of HPF Phase 1 Final Report including site selection & ranking criteria in Summer 2021

Next Step:

  • The criteria outlined in the HPF Final Report will be used to identify, rank and select Crown lands for high-production forestry zones. No sites have been selected yet.

Natural Disturbance Regimes

Studying how to better align forestry practices with naturally occurring elements that affect forests such as fire, wind, and insects.

Progress to date:

  • Collected and coordinated information on Nova Scotia’s natural disturbance regime agents in Summer 2019
  • Submitted to a scientific journal for peer review and feedback in Winter 2019
  • Completed scientific paper and submitted to journal editor for final review in Winter 2020
  • Paper is available online and published in the December issue of the journal, Environmental Reviews.
    A review of natural disturbances to inform implementation of ecological forestry in Nova Scotia, Canada (Anthony R. Taylor, David A. MacLean, Peter D. Neily, Bruce Stewart, Eugene Quigley, Sean P. Basquill, Celia K. Boone, Derek Gilby, Mark Pulsifer)
  • Developed methodologies for linking Nova Scotia’s natural disturbance regimes to the provincial Ecological Land Classification and their subsequent implementation in ecological forestry
  • Submitted this second paper to a scientific journal paper for peer review in Spring 2021

Next Step:

  • Awaiting the outcome of peer review process. The paper will be made available online after successful peer review and publication.

Old Forest Policy

Reviewing how old growth and old forests are identified.

Progress to date:

  • Conducted researched to better understand and identify old growth conditions in non-traditional species in Fall 2019
  • Incorporated the restoration pathway in the revised Forest Management Guide
  • Identified at least 8% old forest for all eco-districts across Nova Scotia
  • Developed new data and tools to identify and assess old forest, and published Story Map: Old Growth Forests of Nova Scotia
  • Targeted stakeholder consultation on new Old Growth Forest Policy in2020-2021

Next Step:

  • Stakeholder and public consultation on new Old Growth Forest Policy

Outcomes-Based Forest Management

Designing an approach to manage forests according to expected outcomes that prioritize biodiversity and recognize ecological, social, and economic values.

Progress to date:

  • Conducted a jurisdictional scan in Summer/Fall 2019 and built a network of experts from various jurisdictions over the course of 2020 to identify best practices/options for implementation in Nova Scotia
  • Developing a draft framework that includes principles, values, objectives, and indicators for stakeholder input

Next Step:

  • Stakeholder consultation

Reporting on the State of the Forest

Improving how we report on the state of the province’s forests.

Progress to date:

  • Reviewed recommended actions in report, completed gap analysis
  • Continuing to identify external sources of data found during gap analysis
  • Beginning the collection of data from internal and external sources
  • Stakeholder and public consultation

Next Steps:

  • Design a new approach for reporting on the state of Nova Scotia’s forests

Small Scale Wood Energy Initiative

Launching a new initiative that will see more public buildings replace their fossil fuel heating system to locally sourced wood chip heating systems.

Progress to date:

  • Awarded construction and operation contracts to service providers for Phase 1 sites
  • Identified a selection of prospective buildings in Spring/Summer 2019 for Phase 1
  • Issued a request for qualified suppliers in Fall 2019
  • Issued a request for proposals to pre-qualified vendors in Winter 2020
  • Phase 1 complete: 9 buildings (at 6 sites) including 2 district heat systems selected for conversion from oil to wood chip heating

Next Steps:

  • Considering candidates for Phase 2, targeting new operational sites for next heating season

Species at Risk Program Renewal

Updating the management system with our partners to create a framework to ensure the protection of species at risk. Learn more about species at risk.

Progress to date:

  • Appointments for 12 recovery teams completed in Fall 2019
  • Work on revising policies began in Fall 2019
  • Completed new Critical Habitat Policy in September 2019
  • The project team held three SAR Recovery Action Forums in Winter 2020
  • Recovery plans completed for all remaining species that fall solely under provincial responsibility

Next Steps:

  • Review and updating of existing plans. Over 90% of existing plans are current.

Silviculture Program Review

The department will be reviewing the existing Crown and private silviculture programs to ensure alignment with ecological forestry.

Progress to date:

  • Project team with internal team members now in place.
  • Reviewing objectives and targets of current silviculture programs in Nova Scotia
  • Jurisdictional review of silviculture programs in other provinces, in the United States and European countries is underway.

Ministerial Advisory Committee

The ministerial advisory committee advises the department on policies and priorities related to implementing recommendations from the Forest Practices Review, including implementing ecological forestry on Crown land. The committee also guides how the department engages and communicates with stakeholders to enhance transparency, consultation and collaboration. Members represent diverse interests, expertise, and perspectives on forestry in Nova Scotia. In time, the committee’s role and membership will evolve to reflect the broader work of the department in other areas of natural resources management.

Committee Members

  • Karen Beazley, Dalhousie University
  • Donna Crossland
  • Angie Gillis, Mi'kmaw Conservation Group & Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq
  • Andy Kekacs, Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association
  • Jason Limongelli, J.D. Irving Ltd.
  • Bevan Lock, Port Hawkesbury Paper
  • Raymond Plourde, Ecology Action Centre
  • Paul Orser, Paper Excellence Canada
  • Debbie Reeves, Murray A. Reeves Forestry
  • Mary Jane Rodger, Medway Community Forest Co-op
  • Mary Tulle, Tourism Nova Scotia
  • Cassie Turple, Ledwidge Lumber
  • Greg Watson, North Nova Forest Owners Co-op Ltd
  • Marcus Zwicker, WestFor

Ministerial Advisory Committee - Terms of reference

We Want to Hear From You

If you would like to join our email update list, ask a specific question or provide feedback, please email ecologicalforestry@novascotia.ca.