By: The Chronicle Herald
A petition against biomass electricity generation is gathering steam, just in time for the annual general meeting of the Forest Professionals of Nova Scotia, set for March 10 and 11 in Truro.
Helga Guderley of Boutiliers Point launched the effort asking the Nova Scotia government to stop cutting down Nova Scotia trees for so-called “green” biomass power generation.
She said 50-60 truckloads of wood are hauled daily to the Point Tupper biomass boiler to produce electricity at an efficiency of 21.5 per cent.
“Yet, at a recent meeting to plan the Canadian Carbon Cutting strategy, Environment Minister (Margaret) Miller announced that Nova Scotia is “greener than the rest”, leading Canadian provinces in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Guderley’s petition reads.
She said in addition to damaging habitat and wreaking havoc on nature in general, clear-cutting for biomass energy (wood burned to convert to electricity) has economic implications, figuring in the demise of Finewood Flooring in Cape Breton and Riversbend Flooring in Antigonish and the increasing cost of wood for home heating.
The power produced by the Point Tupper biomass boiler costs ratepayers an extra $6-8 million annually, Guderley said.
Bob Bancroft signed the petition. He has been working to restore a forest for 41 years.
The 56-acre plot of former farmland is at the Acadian village of Pomquet, on a harbour east of Antigonish.
Bancroft speaks for the trees, and he’s disappointed with clear-cutting used to fuel an energy strategy opponents say is anything but “green.”
“It’s defying the laws of thermodynamics — it’s not efficient at all,” he said.
“The forest professionals, as they call themselves, are having their annual meeting around March 10-11 … they think if only the public understood what they’re doing, they’d agree,” said Bancroft, president of naturalist umbrella agency Nature Nova Scotia.
“Well, the foresters of 40 years ago would be appalled if they saw what’s going on.”
Bancroft, who once worked for the Department of Lands and Forests, was a model forest chair, and even received an award for woodland owner of the year for Eastern Nova Scotia in 2007 from the Department of Natural Resources, said he has seen the effect of thoughtless forestry right on his property, when a neighbour got her forest cut.
The resulting clear-cut on a north-facing hill brought silt tumbling into Bancroft’s brook restoration and fish habitat project, breaking laws of the DNR and Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, but those agencies wouldn’t enforce the laws, he said.
“They give you an award and then they let other people trash your property,” he said.
In the meantime, Bancroft is out, standing in his field, creating canopy holes of forest that had been taken over with the kind of plantings that “grow fast, die fast” — not the sturdy native Nova Scotia forest that once dwelled there as a sort of natural solar energy panel.
He is planting trees like yellow birch, hemlock, white pine, oak and sugar maples — “and all the things nature told me used to be there. I had a good sense of what was here before it all started,” Bancroft said.
He has nurtured three species of oak, and introduced butternut, a relative to the walnut, that grows in the St. John River Valley.
“We’re close to being disconnected at high tides where Nova Scotia and New Brunswick join — there are a lot of species that haven’t made it here,” he said.
Bancroft also looks to northern New England to see what trees are coming in because of climate change.
“The land tells you what trees used to grow here — there are pockets where pasture animals needed shade, and I take my clues from that,” he said.
The petition site had over 2,700 likes by Sunday afternoon.