OPINION: A contractor’s perspective on forestry

November 14, 2016

By: The Working Forest Staff

Nova Scotians are sometimes negative towards necessary, commonly accepted and approved forest sustainability practices. In the press there appears to be a persistent anti-forestry-resource-management bias.

If the growing lake-cottage community finds a lake becoming stagnant, a drone is sent up to find a clear cut and some will forever believe that is the cause.

Earlier this month, I joined other industry people from across Canada at a UBC Faculty of Forestry site in B.C.

UBC has record undergraduate enrolment in their forestry faculty, whereas, in Nova Scotia, interest in a forestry career can be unfairly maligned.

The small inter-generational beef farm where I grew up in the 1950s included a 300-acre woodlot, a grocery store and a seasonal sawmill.

Until the pulp market started in 1961, the two main community income sources were seasonal.

The arrival of a pulp mill enabled the marketing of forest product year-round. Prior to the pulp mill, markets were limited to harvesting the biggest and best trees.

Currently, quality trees are cloned as seed-tree sources for nurseries, providing quality trees over larger areas.

Nova Scotia has about 4.2 million hectares of forest cover. About one million hectares of this cover has been excluded from harvesting for other forest values — such as biodiversity, wildlife and recreational use.

Roundwood production peaked during the hurricane Juan clean-up, when our provincial industry marketed 6.9 million cubic metres.

In 2014, DNR estimated the sustainable annual harvest level at 5.9 million cubic metres. Annual production has been between 3.5 and 4.5 million cubic metres since 2008.

Current markets are threatened by costs, competition and U.S. tariffs.

Professionally managed, given the most optimistic markets, our resource is easily sustainable with diverse and recreation needs addressed.

We have North American, European and Asian markets for saw log, chip and pulp product. However, our diversity of markets depends largely on viable management of our substantial resource.

My education, funded initially by the forest, at the UNB faculty of engineering was adjacent to the faculty of forestry. Both professions dealt with resources and sustainability. My 50-year experience with foresters and forest technicians is that they are passionate about sustainability and the environment.

I pursued a 29-year career in government, growing increasingly aware of the challenging outlook for sufficient revenue to meet the perceived needs of Nova Scotia residents. As a retirement venture, I started Next Generation Forest Management Ltd., proud to be in an industry contributing to the revenue side of government.

We have been a supplier to StoraEnso, Julimar, MacTara and New Page, all of which failed to survive in Nova Scotia. Forest industry investment in Nova Scotia is high risk.

Our industry is driven by passionate hard-working individuals and managed by professional foresters educated in the science of growing and managing the forest resource.

Forest sustainability includes planting, weeding and spacing, as prescribed by professionals. Our company is one of about 35 harvesting and silviculture contractors working for the Abercrombie mill, which is owned by Paper Excellence.

Paper Excellence has seven mills in Canada. In Nova Scotia they are 90 per cent self-sufficient in power generation and operate the largest tree nursery. Their direct spending contributes just over $300 million per year to the provincial economy.

Our company has invested $1.8 million in new equipment, purchased from Nova Scotia dealers, in the last three years.

Operators have left for other areas of Canada and returned because they want to work and live in Nova Scotia.

Besides corporate tax, we pay EI and CPP premiums. Our employees pay Nova Scotia taxes on purchases and income.

We harvest and sustain growth on numerous private lots each year, a portion of stumpage fees being returned in taxes.

We commit to ensure regeneration and planting as required. Lots we own are certified to meet Maritime FSC Environmental standards.

Four full-time-equivalent owner-operators truck our wood, move our equipment and pay taxes. Most of our forest product flows to sawmills, all generating tax revenue.

Local fuel suppliers, repair and fabrication shops, retailers and other Nova Scotia businesses, all employing Nova Scotians and contributing to the revenue side of government, are anxious for our business.

The Now or Never Report, also known as the Ivany report, challenges us all to be innovative, using available science and compromise. Our industry’s contribution to our health care system and our schools and universities is too critical to lose.

Calvin Archibald is president, Next Generation Forest Management Ltd.

Your comments.

  1. Bob Baker says:

    Good for you.Lots do not know what side of the bread the butter is on and still doing the management work right!!!!

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