What Stephen McNeil’s “Independent Review of Forestry Practices” needs to be credible | Ecology Action Centre

What Stephen McNeil’s “Independent Review of Forestry Practices” needs to be credible

Independent Review must build on Natural Resources Strategy; take results of public consultations into account.


Photo Credit: Raymond Plourde

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – During the recent Nova Scotia provincial election campaign Premier Stephen McNeil acknowledged that there was a serious problem with forest harvesting practices in Nova Scotia and committed to an “independent review of forest harvesting practices”.

Here are some critical, must-have elements the Premier needs to ensure are included if this review is to be credible to the public:

First and foremost he needs to choose the right person or persons. The independent reviewer(s) needs to have strong credentials and expertise in Forest Ecology and Wildlife Biology and Habitats. The independent reviewer cannot simply be an industrial forestry consultant. If so there will be no credibility with the general public outside of the industry and the results will be seen as pre-determined and bogus.

Secondly the terms of reference for the independent consultant must specifically direct him/her/they to fully review, incorporate and build upon the commitments of the recent Natural Resources Strategy. The Strategy is the highest level of guiding public policy for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and it commits the department to specific deliverables and outcomes which have so far not been implemented. Specifically and especially the independent review needs to be guided by the massive public call for change and the clear direction for departmental reform, greater stakeholder participation in Crown Land management and a significant reduction in clearcut harvesting. 

The terms of reference for the independent review must also direct him/her/they to examine the following:

1) The cumulative effects of forest harvesting practices on: 

  • Health, diversity and age classes of NS forests
  • Cumulative impacts of forest harvesting on wildlife habitat and populations
  • Cumulative impacts of forest harvesting on forest-dependent Species At Risk

2) The impacts of harvesting levels and methods on other sectors, industries and values. (e.g. tourism, maple syrup, sports fishing, etc.)

 3) Acknowledge and address flaws in DNR’s Natural Disturbance Paper which the department cites as justification for widespread clearcutting.

4) Acknowledge and address the culture within DNR that is impeding consideration of managing Crown forest for values other than large-scale industrial forestry.

5) The social acceptability of forest harvesting practices including and especially clearcutting and herbicide spraying.

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For further information, please contact:

Raymond Plourde
Wilderness Coordinator

More images available upon request.


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