NSWOOA Update 24: May 2009

In this issue
Voluntary Planning
The NSWOOA seeks your opinion
Fall Field Day
Biomass harvesting
Using silviculture funding to help pay for restoration
The new executive
Update on Irving land sale
How to contact us

Hello Woodlot Owners!

Public Opinion

At the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) Robin Barrett made a short presentation on the work of Voluntary Planning. It was their job to gather public opinion on the policies and practices in forestry, on parks and recreation, on biodiversity and on minerals.* They gathered these opinions, distilled them into themes and workshopped the results. Now they are prepared to pass the material over to four “panels of experts” who will make specific recommendations to a third and higher level panel whose job is to recommend policy to government. The panels of experts are yet to be named from the list of nominees, pending formulation of the final panel, indicated Robin.

So what are the main findings of the process so far? According to Robin, that theme is public participation. Over and over again presenters indicated that they wanted the public—ordinary concerned citizens like themselves—to have a mechanism through which they can have a meaningful role in determining public policy and practices. The quality of presentations from woodlot owners and members of the public at the VP hearings certainly indicates that there is a large body of people out there who have educated themselves on all aspects of forestry. There certainly is enough expertise among the general population to successfully argue that the public does really understand the forest, and thus their views should not be discounted when it comes to formulating forest policy. Recent shifts in programs, such as the Category 7 Quality Improvement Silviculture program and the newer woodlot certification program, seem to indicate that in the present day DNR attitude is more consultative. Things are looking up.

One can hope that the great demand for ongoing public input into forestry policy and practices will be satisfied. What the mechanism could and should be is difficult to imagine. There is certainly a range of opportunities, from boards and committees to discuss particular problems to the establishment of community-managed forest blocks.

What are community forests? Basically a community forest is a block of forest land that is managed according to the principles, practices and objectives of a group or “community” of citizens. A quick survey reveals that some community forests are public land only, set aside for an interest group to manage. Other forests are composed of both public and private lands. Aboriginal community forests are becoming more common. The question is this: Is it time for various groups in the Province to look into the community forest concept as a means of influencing forest policy and practice?

Where do you stand? How much are you willing to contribute? What structures would allow you the input and influence you would like to contribute?

*The NSWOOA is interested in all these topics, but especially forestry. The Board made a strong presentation to the VP process, backed up by the fact that members attending the 2008 AGM formally approved the presentation.

Something to Keep You Busy

Speaking of public input, members of the NSWOOA are being asked for their responses to a number of issues and proposals. Here is a list of the topics that you are asked to phone or email your thoughts on. Here’s your homework. It should fill in a half hour or more for you.
  • What should the NSWOOA adopt as a policy on forestry? Do we have a common stand, and if so, what should it be?
  • What membership services should we be providing? What do we do well, and what have we been neglecting?
  • Is this website giving you what you need? Is there something more that we have missed?
  • What role should we take in the Bancroft/Reed lawsuit against a federal and two provincial ministries for failing to protect the environment?
  • Should we be involved in the Friends of the Redtail Society’s efforts to buy some Wagner land to use as a community resource?
  • What is our position on biomass harvest? On building biomass-fired electrical or oil-producing plants?
  • If you have been the victim of timber trespass, or have experiences on the topic to share, Tom Miller wants to hear from you. Please take the time to call us (633 2108) or email us .

Sept. 19 NSWOOA Field Day
By Steve Harder

This year’s field day in Pictou County will showcase the diversity of a working woodlot and a naturally regenerating forest.

Lloyd and Marlene Langille of the Hopewell area, near New Glasgow, will host the event on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The Langilles have been harvesting wood from a 130-acre mixed woodlot annually for more than 40 years. But they’ve done so mainly through selection harvesting—cutting trees singly or in small groups—so wood volume has been retained and cut areas are vigorous and healthy with natural regeneration. They try to avoid clearcutting.

“If you take it all in one shot, you can’t go back, at least in your lifetime,” says Marlene.

Lloyd keeps going back, removing logs using a tractor and winch. Up until about 10 years ago, he and Marlene used horses to take out the logs. Lloyd still sometimes brings in a horse in special spots where he doesn't want to cut a road for the tractor.

The field day will feature local food for lunch and horse and wagon rides to different parts of the woodlot.

Activities planned for this year’s NSWOOA field day include practical examples of woodland stewardship and discussion of broader issues of conservation and biodiversity.

Guest presenters will include Bob Bancroft, a well-known wildlife biologist who, along with his artist wife Alice Reed, is preparing to legally challenge provincial government officials over their failure to enforce existing land and water regulations that could have protected their 32 years of environmental stewardship.

A spokesperson for the Friends of the Redtail Society will speak about the nonprofit group’s efforts to raise funds to prevent a large parcel of land, some of which is old forest, from being clearcut.

Though the final agenda hasn’t been set, ideas being considered are:
    1. Use an old field White spruce site, which is very common stand type on Nova Scotia woodlots, to show how these sites revert back to a natural forest.
    2. Discuss topics such as old growth, habitat, and tree silvics along a trail network using examples of mature mixedwood stands (Eastern hemlock, Red spruce, Yellow birch, Red maple and Sugar maple).
    3. Show the importance of riparian areas using small brooks as examples.
    4. Demonstrate how silviculture, particularly selection harvesting, can be used to mimic natural processes of the forest through the implementation of various-sized patch cuts to encourage various ages of multi-species regeneration and thinning activities to promote growth of existing good-quality trees.
    5. Mark an area of trees to help illustrate to landowners which tree should be cut and which tree should be left to grow and how this can vary depending on the landowner’s values and objectives.
    6. Describe the province’s forest ecosystem classification system by showing soil and vegetation types and explain some hazards and advantages of different types.
    7. Show the importance of soil biology, particularly in terms of long-term site productivity and ecosystem health.
    8. Describe the role of wetlands in a healthy forest and their value in providing ecosystem services in filtering water and maintaining biodiversity and wildlife habitat.Display and operate a portable sawmill and explain how scaling and grading work.
    9. Demonstrate how woodland owners can get value from non-timber forest products.
    10. Provide information on outreach and silviculture funding programs offered by the Association for Sustainable Forestry.
    11. Demonstrate raptor habitat with some examples of potential nest sites to show how to identify such habitat and potential habitat.

    From this broad list of topics, a number will be selected for the Sept. 19 field day. If you have any suggestions or comments about the proposed demonstrations or events, please contact NSWOOA board members or send an email to nswooa@gmail.com. Stay tuned for more details on the final agenda and the format for the day’s activities.

    The board of the NSWOOA invites members and anyone interested in woodland stewardship to attend the field day. To learn, share ideas with like-minded people and have fun.

    Biomass Harvesting Guidelines
    By Wade Prest

    As reported at our AGM in April, the NSWOOA resigned from the NS Biomass Working Group, which has been given the task by DNR of developing guidelines for the harvest and retention of forest biomass in Nova Scotia. Recently, the latest draft was released for comment by interested stakeholders, including the NSWOOA. Interested members may contact the Board or Wade Prest to get more detail of the current version. Any members who would like to comment on the guidelines should contact Wade at 902-772-2211 before June 5, so that your concerns can be taken into consideration as the Association’s comments are prepared.

    The guidelines will be mandatory on Crown Lands, and private landowners will be encouraged to follow the guidelines on their own properties. There are two main classes of biomass identified as important to the maintenance of site productivity. One of those is coarse woody debris (CWD), which is standing and fallen trees (or pieces thereof) over 10 cm in diameter. For some years now, guidelines for the retention of CWD have been in place in Nova Scotia, as part of the Wildlife Habitat and Watercourse Protection regulations. The recommended volumes of CWD to be left on harvested sites are based on observed CWD volumes in mature natural unmanaged stands. This will more or less be unchanged. The second category is the fine woody debris (FWD or “fines”), which is defined as tree components less than 10 cm in diameter, typically tops, limbs, twigs, and foliage. Recommendations are made for the amounts of this material which should remain well distributed on the site following harvest. The amounts vary with the site quality (from no removal on poor sites to 75% removal on better sites) and with silvicultural system (even-aged vs.uneven-aged management).

    At this point, the NSWOOA still has grave concerns that harvesting more material (over and above stemwood) is an unsustainable practice. There is ample evidence in the woods that our forests are stressed, unhealthy, and often growing at a rate less than it should be. That should not be surprising, given the treatment many woodlots have experienced in the past. Unfortunately, the Biomass Working Group has offered no basis for its recommendations, and we will be expressing these reservations in our comments. Although these are only guidelines and woodlot owners are not obliged to follow them, your Association would prefer to see the Province issue guidelines which we can recommend to our members. As it stands, the NSWOOA will continue to urge its members to think of the long-term health and productivity of their woodlots, and consider a reduction in the level of biomass utilization, rather than stripping the land of its lifeblood for minimal short term financial gain.

    UAM Notes: Using silviculture funding to help pay restoration costs, part one
    By Patricia Amero, RPF

    If you are trying to restore Acadian Forest species and structure on your woodlot, you may be able to use silviculture funding programs to help offset the cost of these efforts. These programs are available throughout Nova Scotia.

    For example, a common occurrence in Nova Scotia is a stand dominated by mature pioneer species such as White spruce and/or Balsam fir, where the regeneration consists primarily of fir. In more cases than not, species such as Red spruce, Red maple, White ash, and Yellow birch can be found scattered among the regenerating fir, particularly where there are partial openings in the upper canopy. (Partially shaded conditions are most favorable for these shade-tolerant species.) When desired species are not regenerating naturally, you can plant to boost the proportion of desired species. This will move succession along and establish seed sources of shade-tolerant species for the next generation forest.

    Which species to plant depends on your management objectives and the soil and vegetation types that naturally characterize your forest. If you want to qualify for funding, you must plant tree species with commercial value, which are referred to as crop trees. At this time, species that would be funded include Red spruce, White pine, Red pine, Eastern hemlock, Yellow birch, Sugar maple, White ash, and Red oak.

    When an area does not have enough desired species in the desired locations, you can remedy this by planting the desired trees. In forestry terms, this type of planting is referred to as fill planting. Underplanting is a type of fill planting in which trees are planted under partial canopy. In restoration efforts, fill planting is especially useful in situations where there is a shortage of seed sources for desired species.

    Money is available to help pay for fill planting under Silviculture Category 1 (“Natural Regeneration Establishment”) of the province’s Forest Sustainability Regulations. Although the reimbursement varies, typically it is $300 per hectare.

    In order to qualify for funding under Category 1, you must meet certain criteria:

    • You must plant acceptable species, as described earlier.
    • You must plant at least 300 trees per hectare. (This is not very much.)
    • After planting, at least 17% of the area must be stocked with planted trees.
    • After planting, 80% of the area must be covered by trees of acceptable species. These trees may be either naturally regenerated or planted.
    • Any planted hardwood species must be protected from browse, and no funding is available to help offset the cost of protecting these seedlings.

    If you are fill planting 300-500 trees per hectare and if certain other conditions are met, a site such as this one might be eligible for additional silviculture funding under Silviculture Category 7 (“Quality Improvement”) of the Forest Sustainability Regulations. I’ll talk more about using fill planting together with selection management in the next edition of the NSWOOA Update. Following that, I’ll talk about how to use fill planting along with manual weeding in cut-over areas where most of the regeneration consists of pioneer species. Finally, I’ll explain how the funding process works and talk about what to do if you are interested in applying.

    For more information on uneven-aged management, please check my blog.

    The New Executive
    In accordance with the By-Laws of the NSWOOA the Board of Directors at its first meeting following the AGM elected a new slate of officers.

    President: Austin Parsons

    Vice President (open temporarily)

    Treasurer: Tony Phillips

    Recording Secretary: Paul Brison

    Corresponding Secretary: Ken MacRury

    Central Wood Supply Division:
    President: Lorne Burrows
    Secretary: Paul Brison

    The new executive thanks members for their support and asks that you make the extra effort to keep in contact, so that we may be better able to serve your needs.

    Update on Irving Land Sale
    By Kermit DeGooyer

    The provincial government has taken a small step to secure some of the 214,000 acres of land that JD Irving Ltd. is selling in southwestern Nova Scotia. During a rally organized by Buy Back Nova Scotia at Province House on April 30, Natural Resources Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson announced that the government was bidding on 21,000 acres. This amounts to 10% of Irving’s holdings currently for sale, and if acquired, would be added to the Crown Land base. Most of the land is in the Silver and Caribou River watersheds in Digby Co. The Province is also putting in offers on a few small scattered parcels that contain old or uncommon forests, like the cedar swamp at Hectanooga. The Buy Back Nova Scotia coalition had hoped for more, and have pledged to continue pressing government (of whatever stripe we end up with) to acquire Irving’s lands. The coalition ranges from environmental groups and trail clubs to trappers and local businesses. They hope to prevent such a large area falling into the hands of real estate speculators, who tend to liquidate the forest, ring backcountry lakes with exclusive housing lots, and kick everyone out. Every municipality in the region has endorsed the Buy Back effort. For more, check out http://www.buybacknovascotia.ca/

    Lines of Communication

    Members are encouraged to contact the Board of Directors, the Executive and other members through our email address (nswooa@gmail.com) or by phone (902-633-2108 or, for member services, 902-673-2278). Please feel free to use these methods to keep us informed of what is going on in your woodlot or in your community or area. We try to keep you informed through these updates, newsletters and mail outs, our column in Atlantic Forestry Review, the Annual General Meeting, and this website.