News release

Next Phase of Ecological Forestry Consultations

Government remains committed to adopting ecological forestry. That is why the Department of Lands and Forestry is consulting on two key recommendations from the Lahey review of forest management practices.

Today, Feb. 20, the department opened public consultations on draft criteria for high productions zones and is also moving ahead with the next phase of consultations on the draft forest management guide.

“We are committed to fully implementing ecological forestry in Nova Scotia and each leg of the triad model is dependent on the other for success,” said Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin. “This is a fundamental shift to how we manage our forests and it’s important we hear from Nova Scotians as we put in place the necessary programs and measures to move forward.”

The triad model, recommended by Professor Bill Lahey in his forestry review in 2018, includes conservation zones, high production zones and mixed use or matrix zones. These three categories work together to allow ecological and economic goals to coexist, leading to healthy forests and a sustainable forestry sector.

High productions zones are a key part of the triad model where trees are planted and harvested in rotation like crops. These zones will make up the smallest percentage of land in the triad. They help ensure enough wood is available for harvest for a sustainable forestry sector, while less cutting occurs to protect biodiversity in the mixed use areas and no commercial harvesting occurs in conservation areas.

A discussion paper has been posted at and feedback can be sent to .

The draft forest management guide was developed with input from stakeholders in 2019. Those groups will provide feedback on this revised draft guide before it moves to public consultations later this winter.

Operations in mixed use ecological zones, also called matrix zones, will be regulated by the forest management guide. The central focus of the new guide will place more emphasis on ecological values, including biodiversity, while still providing a certain amount of wood for harvest.

Conservation zones will not have any commercial tree harvesting.


The new forest management represents an historic paradigm shift for Nova Scotia’s natural forests. It moves away from excessive reliance on even-aged silvicultural approaches, where trees in a stand end up being the same age, to management practices that will result in forests being made up of trees with a variety of ages through the practice of irregular shelterwood silviculture. Robert Seymour, professor emeritus of silviculture, University of Maine School of Forest Resources

Quick Facts:

  • the criteria for high production forestry are expected to be finalized this spring with the process to identify the first zones to follow
  • work continues on the other recommendations from the forestry review and Prof. Lahey’s first evaluation on the department’s progress on implementing his recommendations, is expected this spring
  • a request for proposals was posted on Jan. 31 for prequalified bidders for the small-scale wood heat project. The deadline for proposals is March 5 with projects anticipated to be in operation by the 2020-21 heating season
  • as part of the species at risk program renewal, the department, in collaboration with the recovery teams, are hosting recovery action forums in each region over the coming weeks
  • the minister’s advisory committee had its first meeting earlier this week
  • a new position to enhance external communications and engagement was created and filled in January
  • a tender was posted in January to develop a guidelines to provide more clarity, transparency, and standardization to applications for long-term harvest plans Additional Resources: For an overview of ecological forestry, visit

For more information on consultations, programs and initiatives related to ecological forestry, visit: