Our industry operates more sustainably than ever before, because our planning decisions are based on scientific data studied and developed by highly skilled professionals.
Over the last two decades we have seen dramatic changes in the way we manage our forest resource. Today’s cuts are smaller in acreage, and their shapes have changed. More land is being conserved for wildlife habitat, clumps and corridors, special management zones, stream buffer areas, and protection of special habitat areas. There’s also greater protection of waterways with green belts and buffer areas to maintain or improve water quality.
“There are more forests in Nova Scotia today than there were a century ago, despite double the population.”
With increasing demands being placed on our forests, it’s even more important that we carefully manage the diminishing areas available for fibre production. These demands include protected areas, green belts, special management zones, parks, protection of water quality and supply, wildlife habitat protection, and land provision for recreational opportunities.
With these demands, sustainable forestry practices are more important today than ever before.
Landowners have the right to choose how they manage their woodlands. They have many options when managing their property, and no two properties are exactly alike. For most woodlands, there are multiple acceptable options.
Harvesting and management methods selected are always a result of informed, educated decisions that consider many different factors.
These factors include, but are not limited to:
A landowner’s individual objectives are a major factor. Landowners consider whether the property is being managed for a long-term investment, or as an investment that can be a means of providing a fast source of income during emergency situations or life events, like sending their kids to university.
Those on the frontlines of the industry work hard to utilize one of Nova Scotia’s greatest, renewable natural resources and earn a healthy, productive livelihood. They do so while ensuring the forest ecosystem is protected and forest resources are sustainable.
Today, modern forestry operations are highly mechanized and require higher skilled, educated and better-trained forest professionals. Like any modern industry, forestry is increasingly high-tech and continues modernize to compete in a global economy. As an industry, we’ve learned a lot and are applying best practices and science in the province.
As a result of these improvements, today’s forests are much healthier and more sustainable than they were even 30 years ago.
From the largest companies to the many small woodlot owners and sawmill operators, Forest Nova Scotia members invest a large amount of time and resources to develop and implement long term forest management plans. These plans secure a future for our forest resources.
Our members are passionately dedicated to their profession, so they’re well educated on laws, regulations and best practices in forestry. They’re focused on a sustainable economic future and keeping this legacy for all Nova Scotians.
“Forest Nova Scotia members have 25, 50, or 100-year land management plans in place for their own lands. They’re operating sustainably in Nova Scotia for the long term.”
Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources has also implemented a number of programs on integrated resource management, forest sustainability regulations, registry of buyers program, wildlife habitat, and watercourse protection regulations that guide the industry every day. These programs ensure the sustainability of Nova Scotia’s forests, protect wildlife habitat, and help improve the quality of our streams and waterways.
Forest Nova Scotia strongly supports these initiatives and our members are implementing these protective measures.
Forest Nova Scotia has adopted as its guiding principles the Nova Forest Alliance’s Best Management Practices in its contractor’s code of conduct. Members ensure these principles are included when managing forests.
Many Forest Nova Scotia members go even further and implement environmental management zones and sustainable forest management systems to create a more mosaic-like effect on the landscape. They also conduct training and education programs for employees and contractors.
By far, the most common harvesting method used in Nova Scotia is a cut-to-length or bole-only system. With this method, the bole (also know as the stem or trunk of the tree) is cut and limbed – leaving the branches, tree tops and other debris on the forest floor.
Far less common in the province is the full-tree harvesting (everything above the ground) method. In this method the trees are cut at the stump, removed to the roadside landing where they’re delimbed and chipped. The resulting debris (branches and limbs) is often taken back to the woods and deposited on the site to maintain the nutrients in the soils.
There is no whole-tree harvesting (removing everything, including the tree roots) in Nova Scotia for forestry operations – but it is used in land clearing and development operations where trees are not intended to be regrown.
Usually more than one harvesting technique can be used on woodlands. Techniques or applications are based on landowner objectives. Forest management practices are carried out based on thorough research and science.
On average, 10,000 hectares of land is planted annually. In recent years, an annual average of $13 million has been invested in silviculture and forest protection on Crown and private lands.
Regardless of the harvesting method, the top priority is always that members harvest properly and sustainably. Forests grow back and continually renew themselves, especially if we take care of them.
In Nova Scotia, 85 per cent of all harvested areas naturally grow back, leaving only 15 per cent that may need some planting. It’s in our best interest, and the interest of all Nova Scotians, to operate sustainably.
“Cutting isn’t the end of a management cycle, but the beginning of a new life cycle for a new generation of forest resources, that continues this legacy for Nova Scotians.”
Work is underway by Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources to develop a timber supply model that will outline just how much wood fibre can be cut to sustain and grow our forest industry. Early estimates show that we are currently harvesting well below those sustainable wood supply model numbers. Our industry looks forward to those model results being released.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources has also adopted measures to ensure the sustainability of our industry. These include regulations requiring an assurance for silviculture work to be carried out after harvesting, which helps the long term sustainability of forests on Crown, industrial and private lands.
Land being removed from service is set aside for protected places, habitat and water quality protection, recreation, cultural reserves, green belt areas, wildlife corridors, and for old growth reserves. This lowers the lands available for active harvesting and is therefore shrinking the potential lands for wood supply.
There are many diverse, valid interests surrounding our forests, but the objectives shared by all Nova Scotians are balance and sustainability. Intensive forest management for fibre production is the same as a farmer intensively managing their farmland to maximize yield from each acre.
Each member of Forest Nova Scotia commits to our Stewardship Principles.
These principles are as follows:
Follow an Operations Management Plan for Each Property:
Follow the Forest/Wildlife Standards for Nova Scotia:
Ensure Forest Renewal After Harvesting:
Protect Water Quality with Proper Road Construction, Water Crossings and Maintenance:
Respect Landowner Objectives and Property Rights:
The Health and Safety of Employees and the Public Will Not Be Compromised by Any Forest Practice.
This has been advanced by establishing the Forest Safety Society of Nova Scotia as well as Forest Nova Scotia’s former Safety and Training Committee.
Like all industries, to remain competitive in a global market and employ thousands of Nova Scotians in rural areas, it simply makes sense to improve efficiencies and increase sustainable productivity. Technological advances allow the industry to make more efficient use of each piece of raw material, which reduces waste.
We also believe much more can be done. Forest Nova Scotia members, both businesses and individuals, are responsible for managing more than 1.5 million hectares of Nova Scotia forestland. We take this responsibility seriously and a key part of this is ensuring we operate sustainably, because we’re committed to growing and maintaining healthy forests for you and your family.
Fortunately, larger landowners in Forest Nova Scotia are either certified or working to become certified under Sustainable Forestry Management systems. Biodiversity management programs are key to becoming certified. Our industry will continue working with government and other stakeholders to contribute to the continuous process of increasing the biodiversity of our forests.
Forest certification promotes sustainable forest management. It involves independent verification of forest management practices against established standards.
Successful certification allows companies to state that their products come from sustainably managed forests, which helps them produce more marketable products and ensures our forests are maintained for future generations. Certified companies also have the option of labelling their products as sustainably-sourced.
“Canada leads the world with about 161 million hectares (43%) of its forests certified as sustainable under one or more of the four certifications.”
The interest in certified forest products is a growing market trend, especially in the European Union and the United States, two of Canada’s key export markets for forest products.
Multiple certification programs in the global marketplace reflect the early stages of a shift to more sustainable approaches to forestry.