Atlantic Forestry March 2018

AFR: Mr. Jess has really hit the nail on the head with this one… (Letters, AFR January, page 6, recommending manual forest restoration operations in Nova Scotia.) It would return the industry to the hands of the little guy, who is pretty well out of the present picture.
    I wonder if indeed you could round up the number of people to do that type of work anymore; the general populace seems to have lost the will to work, and that work he is describing is very demanding physically.
    His plan is very similar to one I proposed to DNR many years ago. I wanted them to pick blocks of Crown (land) to be managed properly, subsidize the procurement of a 4-wheel-drive medium size tractor, complete with a small forestry trailer and loader, saw, and safety gear.
    The blocks were to be overseen by DNR foresters, and harvested by the operator according to their plan. For one person to make a reasonable living really would not take a huge amount of wood cut per day.
    This would have put hundreds of people into the woods working – from small communities – added jobs in the equipment procurement sector as well as much needed cash flow to rural Nova Scotia.
    Something like a lot of mini WestFors working, with management by DNR. More foresters would also have been hired… good rural jobs.
    Needless to say, my letter was not even replied to – no surprise there.
    It would be nice if the general idea from Mr. Jess could be made available to the review person, along with some of the above.
Ken Burrows
Port Mouton, N.S.

(Well Ken, we feel confident that Dr. William Lahey will be reading this, now that the Nova Scotia government has given him a couple extra months to complete his independent review of forest practices. Many people would agree with Charles Jess about the need to make a major long-term investment in quality-improvement treatments on Nova Scotia woodlands. Like you, I find it hard to imagine a widespread return to manual forestry, given workers’ comp costs – as discussed in Dan Woolley’s story on pg. 38 – and our society’s general aversion to hard physical labour. There may be a role for some highly skilled chainsaw crews doing highly specialized silviculture work – if we are willing to place a high value on the trade, and on the outcomes. But more broadly, there is an opportunity for many mechanized crews using specialized, mid-sized machines to conduct quality-improvement silviculture – as opposed to pre-clearcut treatments. There is no shortage of work to do, so these contractors should be able to operate in their own communities. We just need to make the necessary investment. DL)