Bridging the Divide in Forestry, Op-ed
NOTE: The following is an op-ed from Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin.
Forestry has been part of the foundation of our economy for many decades and has experienced significant changes over time.
It is time for this industry to change once again.
A cultural shift is underway that will transform how we value and manage our forests. It’s a move that fully embraces the true meaning of ecological forestry.
This industry needs to bridge the divide between a sustainable path forward and achieving better environmental standards.
At times, I hear misunderstanding from all sides in this sector. However, I am optimistic we can reach a place where everyone involved sees the importance of increasing our efforts to conserve biodiversity and wildlife.
We will get there by being thoughtful, respectful and most importantly by working together. I believe we will find a practical plan that will deliver better ecological outcomes in the forest.
We will preserve the richest biodiversity we have by focusing more on multi-age management of the forest and preserving long-lived, mixed species.
It is not simply about balancing economy and environment because without the environment there is no economy.
Already, we can see real improvements are starting to happen in our forests by putting the focus on ecology and biodiversity first.
Since December, we’ve been using a retention guide on tree harvesting that puts greater focus on preservation when harvest decisions are being made. Over the summer we will update that guide with valuable feedback from our stakeholders.
We also have project management teams that include the people who were instrumental in offering advice to the guide’s main author, Prof. William Lahey.
This sector is important for the generations of families that have been employed throughout the province.
It’s also a key part of products we all use daily in our homes and offices like furniture, paper products and building materials.
In order to improve the way we respect the biodiversity of the forest, we need to recognize that industry is willing to modernize and adapt again.
Government’s role is to create the conditions for mutual respect. This requires patience and perseverance. If we are successful, we all benefit.
The United Nations recognizes that biodiversity is under threat in every region of the world. That means everyone – communities, industry, non-governmental organizations and First Nations – has a role to play in protecting it.
The Mi’kmaq are now answering that call by managing more than 20,000 hectares of land, which was a key recommendation in the Lahey report.
On June 25, we held our first broad stakeholder engagement session, and it was clear that Nova Scotians want to work together to achieve the goals of that report.
By following the most up-to-date science, we can improve conservation efforts while respecting the need for products we all use. It’s in all of our interests that greater consideration be given not only to species at risk, but to all wildlife habitat.
Today, we still use clearcutting as the default approach far too often. There is a place for this approach, but only when the science shows that it can be, “ecologically acceptable in certain circumstances”, as many stakeholders have suggested. For now, our guidelines work to retain the most important trees.
I realize that leaving our partners in the dark evaporates trust and faith. That’s why I will always welcome respectful feedback that focuses on this very important task.
Together we can meet the challenge of nurturing a healthy forest, respecting one of the oldest industries in Nova Scotia and ensuring our children can enjoy one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.