killed several key commitments in the Natural Resources Strategy aimed at cracking down on clearcutting and other destructive forestry practices including whole-tree harvesting, herbicide spraying and over-harvesting.- A recent poll has once again demonstrated overwhelming public support for stricter regulations to reduce clearcutting just as the provincial government has
The poll, conducted between May 11th and May 30th by Corporate Research Associates for the Ecology Action Centre, found that 94% of respondents favoured either a ban on clearcutting (22% of all respondents), or regulations to restrict where clearcutting to can occur (72% of all respondents). Only 2% of respondents felt there should be no regulations to restrict clearcutting, favouring the status quo. Four percent had no opinion, didn’t know or suggested “other." The poll had a sample size of 400 and is considered accurate to within 4.9 percentage points 95 times out of 100.
There were no significant differences in responses from urban and rural residents. The results of this poll are consistent with other Nova Scotian public opinion surveys on forestry practices.
The same poll also found strong public opposition to the use of forest biomass for electricity generation within the province (64%) and near universal support for a total ban on exporting Nova Scotia forest biomass for use in foreign power plants (83%).
“Nova Scotians are simply sick of all the clearcutting . They know it’s wrong and they want the government to step up and stop the overuse of this destructive harvesting practice” says EAC Wilderness Coordinator Raymond Plourde. “And that is precisely what they promised to do. But that is not happening. Instead the Province is going seriously backwards”.
The results of the poll come shortly after the provincial government released its 5-year “progress update” on the 10-year Natural Resources Strategy that effectively killed several key government commitments in the Strategy to reduce clearcutting, curtail destructive forestry practices like whole tree harvesting and herbicide spraying and increase biodiversity conservation measures.
“The Natural Resources Strategy was developed through a highly credible, multi-year, multi-phase public policy process which engaged thousands of Nova Scotians” says Plourde. “The message from them was clear – the status quo was unsustainable and unacceptable – in particular the overuse of clearcutting had to stop. “The status quo was not an option” said the report - but the status quo is exactly what we’ve still got. Despite repeated assurances that the Province was on track to reach the mandated 50% clearcutting reduction target by 2016, the McNeil government has instead simply walked away from their commitments with little more than a shrug and some weak technobabble to obfuscate their massive backslide. What is now clear is that despite all their assurances, the Province never even tried to reach the clearcutting reduction target. Clearcutting levels remain close to 90%.”
Statistics from the Canadian Council of Forest Minister`s National Forestry Database shows there was little progress on achieving the 50% clearcutting goal during the 5-year phase-in period, with clearcutting still accounting for 88% of all harvests in 2014, the most recent year available (Table 1).
“This is a complete failure of public policy” says Plourde. “And it’s also big slap in the face to the thousands of citizens from across the province who participated in good faith with government in a very important public policy process. The new poll confirms that Nova Scotians and their government have never been further apart on this issue.”
|Figure 1: Source: Canadian Council of Forest Minister`s National Forestry Database|
(Note: The biomass poll is in two parts – the first question is for domestic use of forest biomass (inside NS) and the second is for foreign exports of biomass.)
Quotes from the Natural Resources Strategy process
“The status quo cannot sustain the biodiversity of our natural environment, enhance the economy, or preserve the rural lifestyle so valued by the citizens of this province. During a citizen engagement process on the future of the province’s natural resources, Nova Scotians made it clear that change must happen in all areas of natural resource management—and happen soon..”
Natural Resources Strategy Phase 1 Report, April 2009
“The status quo is not an option. Unless there is change, Nova Scotia's natural resources will continue to be destroyed.”
Message from the Steering Panel Chair
Natural Resource Strategy Phase 2 Report, April 2010
“The Path We Share, A Natural Resources Strategy for Nova Scotia 2011–2020 is about doing important things differently. The call for change comes from Nova Scotians of all ages and walks of life who care about our natural resources... the status quo is not acceptable. The Department of Natural Resources and the government of Nova Scotia agree.”
Message from the Minister of Natural Resources
Natural Resources Strategy Final Phase Report, August 2011
“In 2011, the Natural Resources Strategy committed to reduce clearcutting to no more than 50 per cent of all harvests by 2016 and to set that target in regulation. As part of landscape-scale ecosystem-based management, the Department of Natural Resources is moving away from a system that determines the amount of clearcutting based on its percentage of harvested land.”
For more information, contact:
Raymond Plourde, Wilderness Coordinator
Download this press release [pdf]: click here