Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada
Natural Resources and Renewables


Forest Stewardship Principles


Of all forest management activities, forest access roads are cited most often as a source of soil erosion. Poorly constructed roads can increase silt in water courses, obstruct fish passage, deplete dissolved oxygen and lead to destruction of spawning and rearing habitat for fish. These problems can be reduced by using proper techniques for construction and maintenance of forest access roads and stream crossings.

The Environment Act of Nova Scotia is designed to ensure that all access roads and stream crossings are properly constructed. Proper road and stream crossing construction is complex. There are many factors to consider such as soil type, drainage and topography. The Environment Act is also complex in order to cover all situations. If you are unsure about how or where to construct a road or stream crossing, get help. You can contact the Nova scotia Department of Natural Resources or the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment.

A road or water crossing will cost less in the long run if it done right the first time. Fines and expenses for clean up can be costly.


It is important to plan ahead on road location. This will help you anticipate problems and reduce cost. Walk the route and note any problem areas. Mark the planned route on your operations management plan. In this way everybody involved from the dozer operator to the landowner will know where the road will go. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning a road:

  • locate roads on high ground
  • side hills are good if <30% slope
  • avoid river valleys
  • avoid swamps and rock ledges
  • avoid fragile sites (e.g. thin sandy soils)
  • avoid sensitive habitat (e.g. marshes, deer yards)
  • minimize the number of stream crossings needed
  • maximize the distance from streams or water courses


Here are some tips to help reduce environmental problems for road construction:

  • crown roads
  • ditch roadsides
  • keep traffic off during wet weather
  • fueling and oiling machinery should be >30 m (100 ft) from a water course
  • use cross culverts and/or take off ditches every 300m (1000 ft)
  • seed roadsides or use erosion control mats if erosion is a problem
  • do not block natural drainage of the land, use cross culverts


From Environmental Standards fro the Construction of Forest Access Roads and Fire Ponds in Nova Scotia


  • Environmental Standards for the Construction of Forest Roads and Fire Ponds in Nova Scotia. 1983. Nova Scotia Department of the Environment and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
  • Woodlot Roads Stream Crossings. 1992. By Glen C. Braithwaite. Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

Exercise 4:

1. Take a look at the contour map of the I.M. Ready woodlot. Mark on this map or the management plan map, the best location for woods roads to access this woodlot. Keep in mind the tips from Chapter 4 for planning a road.