Atlantic Forestry January 2018

AFR: I have been watching the public responses to the latest review of forestry practices in Nova Scotia. It is clear that the public is not in favour of all that clearcutting, and neither am I. We have been dominated by companies that give us no say in how they conduct things, since they are not publicly traded and there is no way to share in the profits they make. This situation is the worst it has ever been.
    What I have not heard is what it would take to bring Nova Scotia back to a predominance of Acadian forest with a proper overstory. I have to guess at the numbers by looking at present production, but I can see the need for 3,000 more workers on the ground to thin out the mess left by the clearcutting to date, so it can restore itself. This crew would not generate much saleable wood. Another 3,000 workers would be needed to selectively cut going forward and supply the wood for the mills. 
    Since the machinery presently used cannot productively cut and leave a windproof overstory, a whole new fleet would be needed, scaled down to the cutting rate of the hand logger and able to move among the trees. Even the trucks would have to be reduced in size to accommodate the smaller outputs. Just remember that smaller amounts of money will be circulating with the smaller outfits, but it will encourage more value-added use of the products. Probably more lumber and less pulp. More hardwood products and less biomass. Hopefully more local mills of every description. 
    And don’t forget that it will take generations to get our forests back after the raping they have endured. Let the big companies scream. These later ones would not share their profits with us anyway. To the bureaucrats that side with them, give them a power saw. They are needed on the land if we are ever to bring our forests back. And yes, we can produce wood. Just small interventions, far more often.
Charles Jess
Yarmouth, N.S.

AFR: As always, a leaf through Atlantic Forestry Review is as depressing as... Atlantic forestry. Of special note is David Palmer’s report on some cult session in New Brunswick, which might have passed unnoticed without the bold faced, BUDWORM GAINING STRENGTH (“Welcome to Carleton County!” AFR November, page 34). 
    I started reading about budworm 40 years ago when its population exploded in Eastern Nova Scotia, and because we were able to prevent spraying we managed to save our forest, our birds, and our children and even our pulp industry. The language the forestry cult uses to mislead, claims an infestation in New Brunswick. Of course the Spruce budworm is endemic in Maritime forests. 
    The article claims that budworm spraying had increased from 85,000 hectares in 2016 to 150,000 hectares in 2017. That’s no surprise, because we know that spraying Spruce budworm increases the area of high budworm populations. New Brunswick managed to turn a local budworm problem into a province-wide disaster by spraying. 
    In contrast, Nova Scotia decided not to embark on a spraying program in the 1950s, so the populations returned to normal levels, while New Brunswick’s spray program grew to cover almost the entire province by the late 1970s when budworm became an issue in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia wisely chose not to perpetuate the epidemic with a spray program, so when budworm populations fell to background levels, spray programs were largely abandoned in Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Maine, and even New Brunswick. 
    But here we have history repeating itself, New Brunswick embarking on a new plan to maintain unnaturally high budworm populations. The man running the program is concerned about a “mass dispersal event,” which is actually what he is engineering. The good news for anyone who cares is that healthy softwoods can survive several consecutive years of complete defoliation without dying. It is just one of the numerous facts that the forest cult refuses to acknowledge. The current $6 million wasteful program will of course grow, as spraying maintains populations, creating the demand from fools for more spraying.  
    And then I read how J.D. Irving’s forest manager is sick of the public knowing more about forest ecology than he does. Personally I’m sick of Irving and their cult of forestry reducing the value of our forest, reducing the employment opportunities in the forests, and reducing the ability of the forest to cope with climate change, while reducing every metric of ecosystem health wherever they operate. It isn’t clear whether it was Killam or Palmer who decided that glyphosate (is) “a herbicide used to kill hardwood vegetation that can choke out planted softwood seedlings.”  
    First point: planted softwood seedlings never form natural root systems, never enter into the forest family, but remain orphans. Second point: the use of herbicides compounds their struggle by killing the hardwoods that hold the water table, and which protect them from extremes of heat, cold, wind, snow, and rain, and host the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that are essential for healthy forests. Last point: softwood plantations drive global warming with reduced albedo compared to natural forests, and global warming will, in turn, reduce the conifers in our forest. 
    Ultimately, it is the refusal of the cult of forestry to accept the existence of ecosystem and climate science, and interference with their addiction to clearcut logging, which is the cause of all problems the cult pretends they alone can deal with. The fact is that if we logged selectively, relying on principles of ecology, and treat our forest with respect, the problems that plague the cult of forestry would vanish with the cult.
Geoffrey May
Margaree Harbour, N.S.  

(Sorry you find the magazine depressing, Geoffrey. You address several topics – forest insecticides and herbicides, plantation establishment, and clearcut harvesting – which are known to be controversial, but some of your remarks veer toward personal attacks. We are printing your letter to acknowledge that these things are up for debate, and in hopes of more civil and well-informed public discourse on forestry. DL)