(Originally published in the March 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - Forestry feature)
In January, the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS) held its annual meeting in Halifax. As you may imagine, in an industry that has been through the turmoil the forest industry has seen last few years, the agenda was full.
Aside from the talk of who is closing their doors, who is expanding, and who is new to the industry in Nova Scotia, perhaps the most anticipated session of the annual meeting was simply titled “State of the Forests”, involving a panel of three speakers.
Collectively, the speakers gave an overview of the past, present and future state of the forests here in Nova Scotia. The present and future portions of the panel were led by Jonathan Kierstead, the province’s director of forestry, and Julie Towers, executive director of the renewal resources branch with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.
But, it was the look at the past that captured most attention during the session. Ed Bailey, retired director of forestry with the provincial government, reminded attendees of the make up of our forests in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, and what years of a lack of management meant to those forests. Bailey also spoke of the decisions by the former governments that led to where our forests are today — which is just about where government plans had set out to be, in terms of age classification, growth rates and potentials for harvest.
Bailey explained that the government at that time was faced with three decisions:
1) Do nothing, and allow the forests to be overharvested.
2) Slice industry by one third by simply cutting harvesting.
3) Reverse decades of mismanagement of the forests, and begin a program of intensive forest management based on the land and growing conditions we have here in Nova Scotia.
The government chose the third option which allowed for increased management of our forests — creating healthier, more productive forests, an enhanced supply of wood fibre to the industry, and a goal to double forest production by 2025.
Like with anything else, in forestry it’s important to look to the past when planning for the future. At times, it’s easy to forget that the decisions of days gone by were made for a reason.
The Envirothon is coming!
The Nova Scotia Envirothon, a program of the Nova Scotia Forestry Association, will mark its 17th anniversary this year. Envirothon is an environmental education program for students in grades nine to 12. Teams work collaboratively to develop their knowledge of ecology and natural resource management and to practice their environmental problem solving skills in preparation for the provincial and international Envirothon competitions. This year’s competition will be held on May 24 and 25 at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro. For more information, visit www.nsfa.ca.