July 12, 2010
by Matt Miller and Raymond Plourde
Following the release of A Natural Balance: Report to the Steering Panel Phase II, a massive lobbying campaign was launched by the Bowater Mersey Paper Company, the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS), NewPage, Northern Pulp and Ledwidge Lumber. Together they have sent out hundreds of letters to woodlot owners and contractors across Nova Scotia.
The letters contain grossly exaggerated claims about the potential impacts of the report submitted by Ms. Donna Crossland and Mr. Bob Bancroft, and encourage protest to government against their recommendations. The organizations responsible for these letters have clearly stated their preference for the strategic direction of the report submitted by Mr. Porter - which promotes maintaining the status quo with minimal changes.
The intent of these letters was to generate fear and uncertainty amongst Nova Scotians in an effort to prevent any meaningful change in forestry practices and to maintain the status quo for management of Nova Scotia’s forests.
The following will highlight some of the misleading statements made in the letters and clarify some of the false messages presented to the public as part of this fear-mongering campaign.
“Phase II… has resulted in a broad list of recommendations… that will surely cause the end of the forest industry in Nova Scotia.” - Ledwidge Lumber
This alarmist statement is intended to incite a response of fear in the mind of the reader. By attempting to make small woodlot owners and contractors scared of the impacts of the recommendations, the industrial lobby is working to maintain the status quo. This is a classic lobby technique that has been used in many debates in the past.
The Bancroft/Crossland report was intended to deal with issues stemming from the public consultations during Phase One of this process – growing ecological concerns related to harvesting practices and the current economic crisis facing the traditional forest products industry in NS – which are in serious trouble:
- Wood products manufacturing employment has fallen to roughly half during the past decade (4,000 jobs in 2000 to 2,250 jobs in 2007). In the same time period, paper manufacturing employment has declined from approximately 3,000 to 1,700 jobs.
- Low-wage foreign competition, lower costs for primary inputs, the rising Canadian dollar and the liberalization of world trade will continue to put stress on the traditional forest-based economic sectors in NS.
- Despite falling forest industry employment, harvest levels have almost doubled since the early 1980’s, from 3.3 million cubic metres in 1981 to 5.2 million cubic metres in 2006.
- Forest harvesting in Nova Scotia is currently over 90 percent clear cut. The industry relies heavily on government-subsidies that support even-aged management activities (site preparation, planting, herbicide application, etc) that follow clear cutting.
Our forests have become less biologically diverse, more simplified in structure, and no longer able to support some wildlife species. Forests of late-successional species have been replaced by low quality, shorter-lived pioneer species. Our provincial forest policy continues to focus nearly entirely on the production and harvest of softwood fibre, failing to incorporate objectives for other forest resources or societal values.
Based on public outcry, scientific research, and a declining forest economy that is reliant on ecologically unsustainable harvesting practices, it is clear that change is necessary to ensure the long term future of forests and a forestry industry in NS. Nova Scotia’s forest industry must begin planning for alternative and globally competitive uses of the province’s limited forest-based resources.
The goal of the Bancroft/Crossland recommendations was to create new, rural-based, green forestry jobs and a more stable forest industry with a particular emphasis on high quality hardwood. By expanding our value-added industry we can create many more jobs for every unit of wood harvested.
“Many of the recommendations… come from a few vocal people who would prefer to see our industry die.” - Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia
This represents another well-established lobby tactic of attempting to vilify your critics. “Don’t listen to them, they are trying to ruin your livelihood!” This statement represents an unacceptable, direct attack on the character of Bob Bancroft and Donna Crossland, both of whom were selected for this process because of their strong scientific backgrounds and solid professional reputations for objectiveness and sound judgement. Their recommendations are the result of a tremendous effort to create workable, achievable solutions to the ecological, social and economic challenges we face.
About the authors of A Natural Balance: Report to the Steering Panel Phase II:
Bob Bancroft and Donna Crossland both have strong scientific backgrounds and years of forest observations on which to base professional opinion. Their understanding of NS forests extends far beyond the very narrow viewpoints of the traditional forest industry and softwood fibre interests to consider a broad range of needs for forest species, from wildlife (from forest dwelling mammals and birds to the fish in our streams), herbaceous plants, and less well known species of lichens and mosses. They considered natural forest succession and the needs of all tree species, not only the species most used in pulp and paper.
The authors were above all, objective. They do not hold vested interests in the forest industry, politics or DNR. They do not stand to make personal financial gain or loss from the result of this process, unlike those responsible for the attacks on their professionalism and integrity. They presented objective opinions based on science and ecological principles.
Donna Crossland: BScH (Biology) Acadia U., BEd (St Mary’s U.), MScF (Forestry) UNB. Donna has written vegetation management plans for PEI National Park and Kouchibouguac National Park and is currently working on forest management in Kejimkujik National Park.
Bob Bancroft: BSc, MSc (Acadia University). He is a retired Biologist from the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fisheries. He is also a member of the Executive for the Canadian Wildlife Federation and co-authored a forestry wildlife manual. In the past he has worked as an assessor for Smartwood, which promotes Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification and ecologically sensitive forest practices. Bob was named Woodlot Owner of the Year in 2007.
“Many of the recommendations are scientifically flawed.” - Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited
“Many of the recommendations… are not based on credible science” - Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia
The Bancroft/Crossland report contains 117 references, many of them peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, books on forestry and other forestry-related journals. They consulted scientists in the field of forestry, ecology, and soil science at the Canadian Forest Service – Atlantic Forestry Centre, DNR (both NS and NB) and at Dalhousie Univeristy and UNB Dept of Forestry and Environmental Science. Their lesser known Research Addendum provides even more in depth information on the topics of clear cutting, biomass, riparian zones and ecologically-based, multi-aged silviculture.
Comparison of Literature Citations for specific topics in the Bancroft-Crossland and Porter reports including addendums:
|Number of References
|Number of References
|Uneven-aged forestry||12||0 (This harvest concept is not presented at all, almost as if it does not exist)|
|Total report references||117||73|
It is also worth noting the while the Bancroft/Crossland report makes numerous comments and recommendations dealing with wildlife habitat needs and impacts associated with harvesting (36 mentions in their report and research addendum), the Porter report avoids the subject of wildlife entirely (0 mentions in his report and research addendum).
“There are numerous recommendations that would… severely restrict landowner’s rights…” - Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited
This is a misleading statement that does not reflect the tone of the recommendations regarding private land.
Bancroft-Crossland suggest that private land management plans “be encouraged”, not made mandatory. They recommended that private land owners be assisted by government extension services if they wish to adopt a plan and that funding for small woodlot owner management plans be available under the silvicultural funding mechanisms. Small private woodlot owners could potentially gain more benefits from their lands if some of the recommendations are followed through on, such as increased technical support from DNR, protection from wood theft and financial assistance for management plans.
The landowners who most likely will feel the weight of new regulations are the large industrial owners whose poor practices are the root cause of this entire process – the same individuals and companies that are responsible for this fear-mongering campaign.
Small woodlot owners have nothing to fear. Woodlot owners practicing good forestry should not be afraid and should not fall prey to industrial manipulation. Neither the Forest Panel nor the Minister of Natural Resources is intent on placing additional burden on the backs of responsible woodlot owners.
All Nova Scotians are urged to read the forest panel reports for themselves, rather than play into the skewed, industrial viewpoint.
The need for forestry reform has been clearly identified and strongly endorsed, first in the Phase One public consultations and again in the Phase Two report. It is time for the forestry industry to accept the need for change and move beyond divisive and erroneous fear tactics.
Public voices of support are needed now to counteract the misleading and manipulative campaign to prevent change being launched by entrenched industry players.
This is the first time that a comprehensive forest strategy review has been done in Nova Scotia since the early 1980’s. We may not see another opportunity like this for many years to come. The time to speak up and be counted is now. Please take a few minutes to do so.
Please support your government in making positive change now. Contact the Minister of Natural Resources and Premier Darrell Dexter to voice your opinion and support for the recommendations of the Steering Panel and the strategic direction of the Bancroft/Crossland report as soon as possible before the strategy is completed.
Please send a letter of support right away to:
Premier Darrell Dexter
Office of the Premier
7th Floor, One Government Place
1700 Granville St
PO Box 726
Halifax, NS, B3J 2T3
Minister John MacDonnell
Minister of Natural Resources
Department of Natural Resources
3rd Floor, Founders Square
1701 Hollis Street
PO Box 698
Halifax, NS, B3J 2T9