OPINION: N.S. public are recognizing forests are well managed

December 16, 2016

By: Chronicle Herald

No one cares more about Nova Scotia’s forest than the 6,100 forest industry professionals who make their living taking care of it.

Our forests are a dynamic and renewable resource. We harvest our forests and they grow back, often healthier and more productive than they were before. They provide our province with environmental, economic, social and cultural benefits, particularly throughout rural communities.

Nova Scotia’s valuable, diverse and sustainable forests cover 3.7 million hectares, or 71 per cent of the province. There are more forests growing in our province than 100 years ago, though our population is double what it was back then.

Every day, members of Forest Nova Scotia ensure Nova Scotia’s forests are healthy and sustainable. Today, modern forestry operations require highly skilled, educated and well-trained forest professionals.

Like any modern industry, forestry is increasingly high-tech and continues to modernize to compete in a global economy.

As an industry, we’ve learned a lot and are applying best practices and science to forest management and to producing products. As a result, today’s forests are much healthier and more sustainable than they were even 30 years ago.

Recently, articles and letters in The Chronicle Herald have expressed concerns about current forestry practices. Others who work in the sector have come forth with their perspective, defining and defending how forestry professionals are managing one of our greatest resources.

We wanted to see for ourselves what was in the hearts and minds of Nova Scotians. In an effort to better understand public opinion, Forest Nova Scotia recently commissioned research through Corporate Research Associates, a professional research firm that regularly conducts polling throughout our region.

We learned there is widespread agreement among residents that Nova Scotia forests are considered a renewable resource. Indeed, more than eight in 10 respondents agree this is the case. And 70 per cent are of the opinion that Nova Scotia forests are managed by professionals who follow sustainable practices, use scientific decision-making and new technologies so our forests are well managed.

Protected areas in Nova Scotia equal 12 per cent of our forest. Our industry played a leadership role in making that happen.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in forest management. On public and private forested lands that our members harvest and re-forest, a further 42 per cent of lands will never be harvested because they are wildlife or protected-species habitat and buffers, old growth forest or other exclusions.

That leaves about three million hectares. A further one million hectares are areas with special management policies, like watercourse buffers, and other deer, moose and turtle habitat, where forest harvesting follows further restrictive policies, if allowed at all.

About 30 per cent of our forests are third-party certified and managed to internationally recognized standards.

That’s amazing when you consider more than 25,000 private landowners own over half of our forest lands.

All of this, combined with the science of forest management guiding decisions for lands we can harvest, show we’re taking good care of our forests.

And Nova Scotians understand that.

Every day we are all working to ensure our province’s forests are healthy and sustainable. The forest is more than a resource to us. It’s a legacy for Nova Scotians and we are the proud stewards.

Jeff Bishop is executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, which since 1934 has represented forestry interests in the province.

By: Chronicle Herald

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