News release

Province Making Progress on Implementing New Forest Practices Guide

The Province is close to fully implementing the new forest practices guide as part of its work to ensure a sustainable forestry industry in Nova Scotia.

The Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix applies to Acadian forest on Crown land and is being phased in gradually. By June 1, the majority of practices in the guide will be required.

“We are moving ahead with a fundamental shift in how forestry is done in this province, placing a higher priority on biodiversity and protecting healthy ecosystems within our provincial forests,” said Tory Rushton, Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables. “We’re supporting that shift through broad-based training for our staff and forestry operators and projects that help private woodlot owners explore how they can adopt ecological forestry.”

The guide outlines the types of forest practices that can be used within matrix – also known as mixed forest – areas on Crown lands. In these areas, the triad model of ecological forestry prioritizes biodiversity conservation through lower impact forestry and reduces clearcutting.

As of February 1, the Department has required that new harvest plan proposals follow most of the practices in the new guide. The requirement also applies to proposals that were submitted before February 1 but not approved by that date. These harvest proposals now reflect the latest requirements when they are posted on the Harvest Plan Map Viewer for public consultation.

Effective June 1, the requirement to follow practices in the new guide will be extended to most harvest plans that had been approved using previous guidelines. In the few cases where meeting that time frame is not possible, licensees must work with the Department to transition their harvest plans as quickly as possible.

Some harvest plans that were approved under old guidelines will be grandfathered. Licensees can continue following the original approval until completed if, as of June 1:

  • they are actively harvesting a block
  • they are not actively harvesting, but the block has 10 hectares or less remaining to be harvested.

Next steps toward full implementation of the new guide include more training for people in the forestry industry as well as developing a software solution to translate proposal data into final harvest plans (prescriptions) that follow all practices in the guide.

Work is also underway to define how and where high production forestry can take place on Crown lands. This will be the smallest of the three ecological forestry zones.


The harvests in the ecological matrix are not meant to be strictly for fibre but more designed to create an uneven-aged stand to promote biodiversity, maintain or increase wildlife habitat and more closely resemble what happens in unmanaged forests. I enjoyed working with this new prescription because it shows the importance of what we are leaving behind when we are done. Jamie Caddick, Owner, Jamie Caddick Logging Limited

The ecological forestry training sessions are informative and a good balance between infield and in class time covering operational best practices, better understanding of the new prescriptions, the importance of biodiversity and supporting ecosystems throughout the forests. Carl Tingley, trainer and Owner of Forest Liaison Inc.

Quick Facts:

  • all staff who review and approve harvest plans have been trained on how to implement the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix
  • about 50 people in the forestry industry have also been trained and about 150 more will be trained by September
  • adopting ecological forestry was a recommendation in the independent review of forestry practices in Nova Scotia by Prof. Bill Lahey
  • the triad model of ecological forestry being adopted on Crown land consists of three legs: conservation zones, high-production forestry zones and mixed use or matrix zones
  • the three zones work together to allow ecological and economic goals to coexist, leading to healthy forests and a sustainable forestry sector

Additional Resources:

More information about ecological forestry, including the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix, and actions to implement it is available at:

Harvest proposals are posted for public consultation on the Harvest Plan Map Viewer at: