Forestry sector transition

A transition team of government and industry representatives has been created to make sure the forestry sector has a place in Nova Scotia's economy for many generations to come.

The team is advising government on short-term actions that can help affected workers and businesses, recommending areas to invest the $50 million transition fund, and identifying longer-term approaches to support an ecologically sustainable and competitive forestry sector. Read the Terms of Reference.

Transition Team Members include:

  • Kelliann Dean, Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Trade, as team lead
  • Julie Towers, Deputy Minister, Department of Lands and Forestry
  • Simon d'Entremont, Deputy Minister, Department of Energy and Mines
  • Ava Czapalay, Acting Deputy Minister, Department of Labour and Advanced Education
  • Don Bureaux, President, Nova Scotia Community College
  • Jeff Bishop, Executive Director, Forest Nova Scotia
  • Debbie Reeves, Chair, Large Private Non-Industrial Landowners of Nova Scotia
  • Greg Watson, Manager, North Nova Forest Owners Co-op Ltd.
  • Doug Ledwidge, President and CEO, Ledwidge Lumber

As the team moves forward with its work, people with further expertise may be engaged.

Forestry innovation transition trust

The forestry sector needs time to diversify and move toward a sustainable future. Government has placed the transition fund, first announced in December 2019, in trust and topped it back up to $50 million – so it is available for use over multiple years. A three-member trustee board oversees spending decisions for the trust. The trustees have launched an open call for proposals that will help transform the sector. See more information about the Forestry Innovation Transition Trust.

A vision for forestry in Nova Scotia

As part of its mandate to identify longer-term and innovative approaches for the forestry sector, the Forestry Transition Team has developed a new vision for forestry in Nova Scotia. This framework will help guide decision making for government and the Forestry Innovation Transition Trust and help prioritize efforts as we move forward.

We invite members of the forestry sector to reflect on this framework and consider what it means for your work or your business as you plan your forestry future.


A strong, sustainable, inclusive, diversified and innovative forestry sector, respected for its stewardship practices, and successfully delivering high value for lower ecological impact.

Guiding Principles:

  • Build on comparative advantage and support diversification and development of new products and markets
  • Protect and enhance ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Engage local communities, incorporate local knowledge and encourage local leadership in forest management
  • Develop and provide scientific and technical knowledge aimed at improving our capability to protect, manage, and use forests
  • Make the best, most efficient use of all available programs and resources

Transition Priorities:

  1. Innovation, Diversification and Entrepreneurship
    • Invest in and nurture a portfolio of activities focused on adding more value to the existing resource, while lowering ecological impacts (research, innovation, productivity enhancement, product diversification, resource improvement, market diversification). Possible investments could include technology pilots and projects that enable emerging technologies and promising innovations on the horizon (e.g. bioplastics, biofuel, advanced materials).
    • Encourage risk taking and experimentation in Nova Scotia’s sustainable forestry and biological resources sector by supporting new and young businesses through the provision of entrepreneurial grants that can be leveraged to secure additional financing.
    • Informed by major drivers of government policy and consumer sentiments worldwide: pandemic economic recovery, climate change ambition, carbon neutrality, need for modern building products, renewability/sustainability and innovation in materials science.
  2. Workforce Development
    • Invest in partnerships with post-secondary institutions and professional associations aimed at keeping the forestry industry competitive by professionalizing the forestry workforce in Nova Scotia.
    • Programming based on the principles and practices of sustainable forest land management as well as workforce development for ramping up the application of known technologies.
    • Goals may include, but are not limited to, new certification, training and skills development, and new strategies for recruitment and encouraging careers in the forestry-related occupations of the future.
    • Skills development for implementation of ecological forestry to align with Lahey report recommendations
  3. Woodlot Owner Leadership
    • Invest in a ‘made in NS, private-woodlot owner-led model’ aimed at creating a forest culture in the province focused on forest stewardship and rural economic development.
    • Goals may include, but are not limited to, creating a strong landowner support network including cooperatives, structure and tools for managing forestry inventory data, collaborating with other resource sectors (e.g. Agriculture), market development, investment attraction and contractor support.
  4. Supply Chain Viability
    • Continue to anticipate and mitigate risk to the forestry supply chain network in the Province.
    • Enable the sector to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency by assisting sustainable forestry and biological resource businesses to invest in:
      • Technologies that increase fiber utilization
      • Technologies that demonstrate business inputs more efficiently.
      • Technologies that produce products at lower cost.
      • Technologies that demonstrably reduce GHG emissions.
      • Process automation technologies.
      • Transportation
      • Productivity of mills and contractors / crews

Forestry sector initiatives

Since January 2020, the transition team has endorsed spending about $25 million in new training and funding initiatives as well as program adjustments involving many government departments and agencies.

Here is an update on many of the initiatives so far:

  • Toll-free intake line – 643 calls
  • Emergency assistance funding for laid-off workers – over $1.2 M provided to more than 1,200 people
  • $7 M for contractors to conduct additional silviculture and much-needed roadwork -- work is underway:
    • ASF (silviculture): 23 small private properties and 5 large landowner properties with 502 hectares treated to date, keeping 25-28 contractors working
    • Forest NS (roads): 146 selected during lottery from Western and Central Regions, 140 are small landowners and 6 are large landowners. 27 selected during lottery from Eastern Region are all small landowners.
    • L&F Crown: About 16 contractors working with staff using a variety equipment with work completed in Hants, Lunenburg, Queens, Annapolis, Colchester, Halifax, Digby and Yarmouth counties.
  • Forestry Innovation Rebate Program – 2 submissions to date, with the first approved project was announced in June
  • Career counseling/paid retraining options in skilled trades – 82 applications, 66 enrolled
  • Forestry contractor financing (Credit Unions) – 23 approved loans
  • Small-scale wood heat generation projects – negotiations underway on first 6 projects, planning underway for expansion
  • NS Works centres workforce programs – available, but some services are temporarily affected by COVID-19 restrictions
  • Forestry Transition Trust -- $50M secured, launched in July
  • Prioritize annual land purchasing program to purchase land from forestry businesses for a fair negotiated value – open for applications
  • TIR’s annual road closure process – five special move permits granted, feedback being collected
  • Forestry Sector Council – $250,000 provided to Forest NS, new council has been established