Outside team named to help with forestry review

by Charles Mandel

The academic and consultant leading the province's independent forestry review has tapped a team largely composed of outside experts to help review forest harvest practices and the overall role of Crown wood supply throughout Nova Scotia.

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources announced November 29 that Bill Lahey, the University of King's College president and leader of Nova Scotia's Independent Review of Forest Practices, will work with the following team:

Peter Duinker, professor at Dalhousie University's School for Resource and Environmental Studies with 30 years of experience in his field. He will assist with research and advisory services;

Al Gorley, former assistant deputy minister with the British Columbia Forest Service and chair of British Columbia's independent Forest Practices Board. He will advise on governance and policy aspects;

Malcolm Hunter, professor at University of Maine, is a conservation biologist who focuses on forest ecosystems and the maintenance of their biological diversity. He is the co-author of a leading text on forest wildlife and forestry;

Robert Seymour, professor at University of Maine, is an expert on forest management practices. His expertise includes ecologically based tree-cultivation systems. He is active in forest certification processes;

Laird Van Damme, adjunct professor at Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ont., and managing partner at KBM Resources, a forestry consulting firm. He will advise on forest practices;

Christopher Wedeles, with the consulting firm Arborvitae Environmental Services Ltd., to advise primarily on biodiversity, including wildlife issues;

Jeremy Williams, with the consulting firm Arborvitae Environmental Services Ltd., to advise on forestry economics.

In addition, Lahey will also seek advice from the Forest Biodiversity Science Advisory Committee of the Department of Natural Resources. The committee members are Prof. Duinker, Tom Herman (Acadia University), Thom Erdle (University of New Brunswick) and Graham Forbes (University of New Brunswick). Professors Sherman Boates (Acadia University) and Peter Bush (Dalhousie University) are with the department.

Premier Stephen McNeil promised a forestry review during the last election and later halted the signing of long-term forestry agreements on Crown land.

For months, private woodlot owners have voiced concerns over their inability to move fibre, particularly pulpwood, on the market.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have criticized the amount of clearcutting on Crown land and their proximity to ecologically sensitive areas.

Much of the blame has been directed at WestFor Management Inc., a consortium of 13 mills with access to approximately 500,000 hectares of western Crown land, most of which Bowater previously managed.

WestFor is looking to sign a 10-year Forest Utilization Licence Agreement and is currently operating on an extended interim lease with the province.

However, the province will not be signing anymore long-term agreements until the review is complete.

This isn't Lahey's first foray in the provincial government. He has previously served as deputy minister for the Departments of Environment and Labour, and helped craft a series of recommendations around aquaculture with fellow law professor Meinhard Doelle. The latter recommendations are commonly referred to as the Doelle-Lahey report.

The province is paying Lahey $30,000 to conduct the review, as well as any additional expenses deemed necessary.

Lahey has begun meeting with a cross section of groups, organizations and individuals. Others who wish to speak with him are encouraged to email him to arrange a meeting at forestryreview@novascotia.ca.

He will provide a final report to Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller by the end of February 2018.

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