First, Global Forest Watch released its interactive map of forest change — loss and gain — and it struck me, how Nova Scotia and New Brunswick stood out as hot spots of forest cover activity, even looking at the map on a global scale. Zooming in, some of that activity appears to be forest gain, but remember, the forests that regenerate on their own in Nova Scotia or that are replanted by the forestry companies tend to be softwood boreal-type species–nothing that serves the insects, animals, and flora as well as undisturbed or well managed Acadian forest.
Next, Matt Miller in the Chronicle Herald describes the arc his father took towards practicing a forestry that follows the Dan Savage rule of leaving your
lover forest in better condition than you found it. There is plenty of research out there that shows how knowledge feeds and expands our own sense of what is aesthetically attractive in nature; in the case of Miller’s father, a man educated to practice forestry, it took the changing science and understanding of forest management to alter his own idea of what a ‘good’ forest looks like.
NATURALLY: Deadwood brings forest alive. Since the Herald disappears its articles after 7 days, an excerpt:
On a site on our family woodlot that today hosts a 30-year old Norway spruce plantation, Dad recalls piling and burning the tops, branches and fallen dead trees that remained after harvesting to make tree planting easier. As a youngster, I remember dragging pruned tree branches to be burned in order to leave behind a “tidy” forest floor, free of any brush.
My dad’s esthetic view of forests did not favour deadwood either. Dad preferred a “clean” forest, one clear of dead trees and untidy brush strewn haphazardly about. He favoured a more park-like setting, with evenly spaced trees and vertical lines that some say appealed to the human eye.
Over time, Dad’s industrial approach gradually gave way to a more holistic view of forests and forest management. He began to see dead trees as important sources of soil nutrients, as food and habitat for a huge variety of wildlife. In areas of our family’s land where we once removed deadwood, we now actively restore it to more natural levels.
In Nova Scotia, threats to deadwood are mounting as the province’s biomass energy industry expands. Feeding the newly commissioned Point Tupper biomass plant has driven forest harvesting practices to new lows by driving market demand for biomass-grade fibre to new heights. Europe is hungry for Canadian wood fibre and the demand for biomass is expected to continue to grow.
The province needs to development a comprehensive suite of tools to prohibit the removal of tops and branches during timber harvesting and to ensure that forests have adequate amounts of standing and fallen dead and decaying wood. The Nova Scotia government has been poised to take steps to address this problem for almost three years now, but no concrete steps have been taken.
Leaving behind enough deadwood doesn’t cost a lot, especially given the paltry price offered for biomass-grade wood.
The payoff for landowners and forest managers is increased forest ecosystem stability and resiliency.