Nova Scotia forestry review to consider clear cutting: minister

HALIFAX — Clear cutting will be among the contentious issues examined in a new review of Nova Scotia’s forestry practices, the provincial government announced Wednesday.

Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller said University of King’s College president William Lahey will lead the independent study, which is due by Feb. 28.

The review was first promised in the run-up to last spring’s provincial election and became a key part of the Liberals’ environmental platform.

“The forestry review will examine harvesting types and rates across the province, with a focus on the western region,” Miller told a news conference. “It will also be looking at market access concerns and will consider current forestry practices.”

Lahey confirmed he’s been given a broad mandate and will examine clear cutting, a controversial practice that drew public attention last year when the Liberal government said it was backing away from a previously stated goal of reducing the practice on Crown land by 50 per cent.

About 90 per cent of wood harvested in Nova Scotia is clear cut, according to federal figures.

Reducing that number was a goal stated in province’s 10-year natural resources strategy, released in 2011.

“I definitely will be looking at clear cutting as one issue,” said Lahey. “It’s clear that it is one of the issues around which a lot of people have serious concerns.”

However, Miller was evasive when asked whether Lahey’s mandate was a sign the government is having second thoughts about clear cutting.

“We’re hearing from people that are saying they are hearing about wood left in the forest to rot from Crown land,” she said. “We’re hearing from private woodlot owners that say they can’t move their wood … because it’s easier to get Crown wood. That’s why we thought it was important to do the review — let’s give it another look.”

Lahey said he plans to provide fresh information that will build on the previous strategy, which heard from a wide swath of industry and…

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