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Nova Scotian naturalists respond to the draft Old Growth Forest Policy

The Nova Scotia government released the draft “Old-Growth Forest Policy for Nova Scotia” last month, asking Nova Scotians to give their feedback on proposed updates. This would update the Old Forest Policy of 2012. The document is long and technical, so we have provided a selection of responses from expert scientists, naturalists, and others involved in forestry, forest ecology, and conservation in the province, so that Nova Scotians can inform themselves on this important policy, and why it falls short.

Key feedback included:

  1. Agreeance that, at the policy states, protected areas are not enough to adequately safeguard old forests, requiring greater measures on other crown lands
  2. Concern that the conservation of biodiversity is not a goal in the current draft, as stated in the 2012 policy
  3. Concern over the short consultation period and lack of opportunities for Nova Scotians to get involved
  4. Concern that the old growth forest scoring protocol, the pre-treatment assessment (PTA) protocol, and the monitoring protocol, are not included with the policy, limiting public consultation
  5. Concern over the raising of the minimum tree age for some species to 140, and that the minimum forest size must be 1 ha
  6. Concern that working lands cannot be considered old forests, despite tree age, simply because they are working forests
  7. Concern over the fact that the Minister can still remove old growth forest areas from the policy’s protection if a development project is proposed
  8. Recommendation to prohibit crown logging old forests
  9. Recommendation to have a third-party oversee the identification and mapping work, to avoid a conflict of interest where the same department in charge of harvest activity is also in charge of old forest protection
  10. Recommendation to include clauses around repercussions for failure to follow the policy, to act as an enforcement measure
  11. Recommendation to make (an improved) Old Forest document into law, rather than policy

We encourage you to send your own feedback to the province, by participating in the call for public consultation by Dec 8th, 2021

For further reading:

Alain Belleveau, Acadia University, E.C. Smith Herbarium curator, “Old Growth Forest Policy doesn’t go far enough”, Nov 9, 2021

Mike Lancaster, Healthy Forest Coalition, “New government policy won’t do much to save old forests in NS”, Nov 17, 20121

Dalhousie Forest Ecology and Management class, Dr. Alana Westwood, Revised old growth forest policy submission, Dec 8, 2021

Dr. David Patriquin, retired, Dalhousie University Biology Dept. “The Draft Nova Scotia Old Growth Forest Policy is weak on conservation of old forest species”, Dec 1, 2021

Donna Crossland, Nature Nova Scotia, “New old-growth policy won’t change much”, Nov 30, 2021

Halifax Field Naturalists and NS Wild Flora Society, “Comments on the proposed Old Forest Policy”, Dec 8, 2021

John Leduc, retired, Conservation Planner, “Comments on NS Draft Old Growth Forest Policy“, Nov 25, 2021

Soren Bondrup-Nielsen, President, Blomidon Naturalists Society, “Old-Growth Forest Policy BNS Response”, Dec 6th, 2021

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