NSWOOA Presentation to Voluntary Planning

Sawmill photo by Susan Danko

The following is the text of the PowerPoint presentation made by the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association on April 22, 2008, as part of the review of Nova Scotia natural resources policy being conducted by Voluntary Planning. Voluntary Planning will use this and other public comment to develop recommendations for the government to consider. The NSWOOA's presentation represents the values, policies and regulations that we feel should be in the final recommendations.

For an account of our April 12 2008 Annual General Meeting, please click here.

Slide 1

Economics: Recognizing we are dealing with an ecological asset.

Why would anyone listen to us?
  • We are small, private woodlot owners and operators. We have an emotional and financial interest in the land.
  • Our knowledge--the issues important to the small, private woodlot owner (forestry, ecology, biodiversity, processing, business)
We are small private woodlot owners who, by and large, have their boots on the ground and hearts in the trees.

Slide 2
We will present 3 themes (each with principle, premise, argument, recommendations):

  1. Single species = single product, multiple species = multiple products
  2. Beyond the woodlot gate

  3. The woodlot is a business
Synthesizing our ideas into one story: Public interest

Slide 3
1. Single species = single product, multiple species = multiple product

Slide 4

  • Maximize ecological health
  • Ecological health leads to economic choice
The premise:

  • A single product market has its flaws--not robust, difficult to adapt.

  • A single species managed forest has its flaws--not robust, difficult to adapt.

  • A multiple product market has its strengths--diversified, resilient

  • A multiple species managed forest has its strengths--diversified, resilient
Slide 5
The single species = single product model, aka the industrial model, is geared to provide cheap fibre (pulp) to the pulp and paper mills and dimensional sawmills.

Under such a regime, biodiversity is reduced.

There is a widespread public perception that forest complexity has been compromised over the past 50 years making it less able to deal with environmental stressors.

There is also widespread public sentiment that the magnitude of clearcutting is excessive.

Slide 6
When biodiversity is reduced because of fibre focus, the small private woodlot owner cannot make a continual income ("one game in town").

This fibre focus has lead to both excessive pressure on the forest and less economic choice for the woodlot owner.

In point of fact, this fibre focus has resulted in an economic environment where the small private woodlot owner is not in charge and very seldom consulted.

The mills rule. They dictate:

  • Supply chain: Crown blocs--industrial holdings--small proviate woodlot owners

  • Prices and

  • Silviculture funds.
This is an artifact of the existing provincial forest tenure system.

Slide 7
How does one take pressure off the idea that a forest is just a fibre factory and at the same time, provide the small, private woodlot owner with a continual income?

Change the management focus away from a single group of trees to one where the forest is considered as a system.

Under such a focus, its ecological diversity, structure and the forest’s multiple species and uneven age characteristics become important.

Fibre becomes one option along with maple syrup, Christmas trees, mushrooms, carbon, ecotourism.

Slide 8
Regaining ecological health means making a forest not just more trees.

A single species tree farm or a multi-species tree farm is still a tree farm.

An ecological healthy, multiple species forest can better adapt to climate change.

Don’t simplify the forest, focus on increasing the forest’s biodiversity.

Under such a regime, small private woodlot owners can take a continual income from their woodlots because of the potential to create a diverse product base.

With no single focus on fibre, the woodlot owner can manage the interest, not the capital.

Each viable woodlot creates a job.

Slide 9
Provide the woodlot owner with the time needed to increase the biodiversity and ecosystem complexity of the Acadian Forest.

Recognize that time is $.


  • Identify the best use for timber: decouple the requirement to operate a mill from being granted a Crown block’s timber rights.

  • Introduce a Category 8 in the Provincial Forest Sustainabilty Regulations

Slide 10
Category 8 Woodlot Investment Fund Program

Boundary lines and GPS data

Management plans--land capacity assessments

Land migration and deed updates

Biodiversity, ecosystem complexity

Travel for education and conferences

Travel for market development

Loan $ to assist additional land purchases to create economically viable woodlots

Acadian Forest ecosystem projects

Bridge funding--$ to set aside immature stands for later harvest, $ for species conversion, $ for time

Value-added development assistance for capital purchases (equipment) and buildings
$ for market development

Woodlot road access and stream crossings

Environment projects: wildlife, biodiversity, species re-introduction

Slide 11
2. Beyond the woodlot gate: Valuing the environment

Slide 12

  • Streamline the present system.

  • Emphasize vertical integration via secondary/value-added processing

  • The present silviculture funding system has too much duplication and bias.

  • Jobs generated from a woodlot include both forestry and processing work.

  • Maximize the $/biomass ratio.
Slide 13
Fibre specifications:
  • Buying and selling logs--if it looks like a log and feels like a log, it may not necessarily be a log.

  • Mills have different grades and counts.
Fibre supply system:
  • Industrial mill: Crown Land--industrial holdings--small private woodlot

  • Medium scale mill: holdings--small private woodlot

Fibre transport is biased against small cuts

Industry (trucking)

Silviculture funding

  • Each registered buyer (a mill) and the Association of Sustainable Forestry (ASF) has its own administrative policies regarding how funds are distributed.

  • The ASF has insufficient monies to pay for all the Provincial Forest Sustainability Regulations category 7 applications it receives.

  • The current system operates on credit for many treatments, the rates are kept so low that contractors are leaving the business.

  • Some work may be best paid for by the hour.

Slide 14

Develop the added value capability of each woodlot:

  • Not every woodlot owner will want to be their own mill or secondary processor.

  • Provide the woodlot owner with the option of seeking information that will allow them to identify the best use for their log and an information network that will provide them with access to the appropriate buyer.

Slide 15


  • Develop universal log-buying standards (create a task force of industry players and task them with this objective).

  • Develop a single silviculture application form that can be used to solicit funds from any mill or ASF.

  • Review the allocation and amounts of silviculture funding as well as how it is allocated.

  • Create a “one stop shop” where a woodlot owner can access information on the specifications, transport options and market prices for the particular woodlot products they are interested in selling.

Slide 16
3: The woodlot is a business.

Slide 17


  • Recognize that biodiversity = economic choice by incorporating full-cost accounting in the present system.

  • Recognize that the traditional skill set of the woodlot owner needs to be fostered.

Slide 18

It is the woodlot owner’s decision whether their forest can help provide

  • carbon sequestration

  • clean water

  • tranquility
They can either keep their forest in place, or clearcut it.

This is not a threat, but a reality given that we place no economic value on these services.

Place a $ value on these services so that the woodlot owner can have a choice.

2 avenues: free market or legislation

  • Free market: carbon sequestration

  • Legislation: Ecosystem Attributes Act
Slide 19
  • Create a provincial carbon credit system.

  • Conduct a study as to the feasibility of an Ecosystem Attributes Protection Act.

  • Provide training in financial planning, accounting, marketing, silviculture practices and product awareness (specifications, market likes and dislikes) as these subjects apply to a multiple product generating woodlot.

  • Hope for a predictable political environment (consistent, long term silvicultural programs).
Slide 20
The Public Interest

A strategy to create a diverse, healthy forest within which a small private woodlot owner can make a living.

Slide 21
Within the woodlot:
  • multiple species = mulitiple products strategy

  • increase biodiversity
Beyond the woodlot gate:
  • Review the present system

  • Maximize the $/biomass ratio

The woodlot is a business:

  • Take into account the ecological attributes of the forest

  • Promote knowledge building within the woodlot owner community

  • A healthy forest = a healthy woodlot owner = a healthy community
Slide 22
One of the best ways to ensure the establishment of biodiversity, sound ecology and sustainable forestry in Nova Scotia will be to make systemic changes that support and facilitate those taking a leadership role in those efforts: the province's small private woodlot owners.
  • Decouple the relationship between operating an industrial scale mill and timber rights.

  • Introduce a Category 8.

  • Introduce a provincial carbon credit system.

  • Consider a legislative option: the Ecosystem Attributes Act.

  • Create a more streamlined marketplace:
    –universal log buying standards
    –universal silviculture application forms
    –introduce a “one stop shop” forest products information center

  • Provide business and technical support to the private woodlot owner to maintain their skill set, and in turn the cultural values of the forest community.