no birds sang..."
Chronicle Herald - Thursday March 2, 2006
Nova Scotians must demand public lands be protected
By JURGEN TEUWEN
I know I speak for many Nova Scotians who are angry
and disappointed by the content of the Sanctuaries Report,
released last week by the Department of Natural Resources
after a year of "deliberating" on issues of
wildlife protection and massive clearcutting in the
Liscomb Game Sanctuary.
Last spring, then-minister of natural resources Richard
Hurlburt announced, in response to petitions and submissions
from many Nova Scotians, that he was not about to remove
the existing protection from the sanctuaries and that
he was also "considering a ban on logging."
Almost a year has passed while staff in his department
and government scientists studied the issue by tabulating
the number of submissions received.
Liscomb circa 2001
(Click image for larger version,
Green areas had not been clearcut
other colours denote clearcuts of various ages.
map of Liscomb
as it "used to look" (date unknown)
The minister’s decision to maintain and even strengthen
protection for wildlife is to be commended. What is
altogether missing from the report is any mention of
the ongoing destruction of wildlife habitat through
the long-discredited practice of clearcutting the forests.
As the minister took his time to "consider a ban
on logging" in the Liscomb Game Sanctuary, clearcutting
has been continuing at an accelerated rate.
While it is widely established that clearcutting destroys
the habitat of wildlife, a department spokesperson has
implied in an interview with The Chronicle Herald that
moose and deer need browse, and clearcutting does provide
that (Feb. 23 story).
Such glib statements by DNR staff can only serve to
detract from the fact that clearcutting destroys habitat
for all wildlife, including the Atlantic salmon, bears,
bobcats, eagles and hundreds of smaller species such
as the rarely seen pine marten and eastern cougar, vegetation
and trees such as black ash and tamarack.
As one Eastern Shore resident comments in an e-mail:
"I can only shake my head and wonder what the so-called
experts are thinking about theclearcutting. Even stupid
people know moose, deer and other animals need trees,
not clearcut areas."
Another writes: "… If this was true, why doesn’t
Nova Scotia have 10,000 moose?"
Perhaps most important, clearcutting undermines the
long-term strength of our economy and contributes to
the demise of our shrinking rural communities.
There are few jobs in the Bay of Islands region between
Sheet Harbour and Sherbrooke, yet the government of
Nova Scotia – through its sanction of DNR policies,
in partnership with offshore companies driven to maximize
profits in the short term – is literally stealing the
future from rural Nova Scotians, whose livelihoods will
ultimately come from sustainable forestry practices,
small-scale manufacturing and nature tourism.
That is, if any nature remains for the people of Nova
Scotia when our once-majestic forests have finally been
reduced to slash and insect-infested thickets suitable
only for bean poles.
According to a thorough study conducted by GPI Atlantic,
only .01 per cent of old-growth forest still stands.
For shame – and for shame to the people of Nova Scotia
for allowing short-term profits to destroy what is rightly
theirs. The sanctuaries are publicly owned lands.
Fully 97 per cent of the public wants an end to clearcutting.
This includes representation by sport fishing and hunting
groups, ATV and recreational hiking groups, the health
and tourism industries and many others.
Even those employed as contractors to the large pulp
and paper companies say they just need work. Contractors
have their futures staked in expensive harvesters and
forwarders. What happens to them when the trees are
As GPI Atlantic states in its report on forestry: "…
the continued focus … on quantity rather than quality
not only encourages clearcutting, but also conceals
a significant loss of value … due to the changing age
and species structure of the province’s forests. The
potential lost market value of premium-priced large-diameter
and clear lumber through the destruction of old trees
in the last 40 years alone is roughly estimated at $260
Using even simple arithmetic, that’s $10.4 billion
over 40 years.
The GPI Atlantic report concludes: "Sustainable
forest management is not the whole answer. Even with
the most careful harvesting techniques, there will be
some level of impact on forest ecosystems. While there
is a great difference between clearcutting and selection
harvesting systems, they both involve the construction
of roads and the removal of biomass.
"And even the highest standards applied on a particular
woodlot cannot guarantee needed protection of critical
forest values at the landscape level.
"Therefore, no matter how excellent forest operations
may be, they are not a substitute for an adequate network
of representative protected areas in Nova Scotia."
Nova Scotia’s public lands, and Liscomb particularly,
demand this protection for the sake of all residents
and future generations.
Jurgen Teuwen is co-founder of the Bay of Islands Centre
for Sustainable Rural Economic Development.
Bay of Islands
Economic Development Center Association