Jamie Simpson and Mark Ballard need to be commended for their responses to Charlie Parker's letter to the editor on forestry. I hope Parker did not really choose the title "For the trees" because even in politics there must be certain thresholds for hypocrisy.
Perhaps the only thing worse than doing nothing is doing something that's worse than doing nothing, and then touting it as having done something good. Such is the case with the Dexter government's application of the Natural Resources Strategy as it relates to sustainable forestry with the exception of the Community Forest pilot project.
Clear-cutting accounts for over 90% of all wood harvesting in Nova Scotia (Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, National Forestry Database). Such forestry practice is well outside the scale of ecosystem-based management for our Acadian Forest in Nova Scotia.
Clear-cuts and whole-tree harvesting degrade soils, especially when they occur on our most productive sites. If NS wants productive forests we should start to reverse the trend away from maximizing short term fibre flow and switch to a truly sustainable model, one that matches the natural dynamics of the Acadian Forest region.
The NDP government was given a clear mandate to change forestry practices in Nova Scotia through the Natural Resources Strategy review and to fulfill what they promised when in opposition. Traditional foresters and environmental critics hoped the NDP forestry politics would be balanced by more conservative measures of uneven-aged forest management, where a continuous forest cover is left intact and a selection of trees is harvested within that canopy.
A state of the art clear-cut definition would begin with the canopy and not some little height and seedlings approaches which are nothing more than clear-cut site beautification measures. Professional old-school foresters offer e.g. the following pragmatic definition:
A clear-cut is created by an opening in the canopy that is greater than twice the height of surrounding trees; it is also important to set parameters for when and where clear-cutting can be used as an appropriate silviculture tool.
It is not too late for Premier Dexter to request from DNR a more balanced clear-cut definition based on sustainability criteria and scientific evidence.
The ridiculously weak clear-cut definition by DNR is yet not in legislation. It can still be changed to something meaningful.
Right now half of all cutting can leave a moonscape; the other half can leave a scattering of low-quality trees, none necessarily higher than 4.25 feet. Our entire forest can be reduced to young, even-aged, low-value forest, and the NDP Government can happily say they’ve fulfilled their promise to Nova Scotians. This is not genuine leadership.
Premier Dexter, it is not too late to ask DNR to change the clear-cut definition into one that respects and furthers the sustainability of our Arcadian Forest and our forest industry.
Political patronage in action. Yes, it will create a few jobs, and there will be some benefit to private business (notably to the developers of the Nova Center project). These ‘benefits’, however, can hardly justify such a large expenditure of public funds. In a democracy there must not be room for the Liberal and Conservative and NDP style cronyism between corporate business people and politicians; else one has to call it plutocracy – rule of the rich.
The dream of convention visitors emptying their wallets on meals, lodging, and entertainment, helping to rejuvenate our ailing downtown doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of the 2012 economy. So we get an arms race in convention centres funded by the public dollar. Mr. Ramia get's his aim -- increased heights for his hotel and office towers in downtown Halifax. Another example of Dexter's socialism for the rich.
TCL, the crown corporation that will run the proposed convention centre, throws out unreliable numbers and surpresses correct information on the proposed convention centre. You can see on their website that the accumulated loss from the first 25 years of operation of the WTCC is around $42m. The Loss from Operations is the ongoing loss that shows up on the financial statements of TCL. Any real company would have been out of business long long ago but TCL is a very special kind of company. My reasonable business assumption in the absence of any evidence to the contrary would be that a facility three times the size of the current would lose three times as much. This is 2012 ... the continent is awash in convention centres that produce nothing but economic transfers of taxpaying dollars. If Mr. Ramia was sure that this project would make profits his company Rank Inc. wouldn't need our taxes to go ahead. Nova Scotians will lease the white elephant for the privilege of losing ~$10 million a year in capital costs plus the continuing operating losses of the convention centre of $2-$4 million. Convention business is down around the planet and dropping, because of the ability to have webinars, online conferences, and because of ever increasing fuel prices. Therefore, Mr. Ramia needs Mr. Ferguson's help whatever the price may be. It is beyond me why the NS NDP would support this kind of old style Halifax cronyism. Perhaps recognizing the weak economic record, convention and tourism officials in the USA have been changing their sales pitch: Convention centres shouldn’t be judged, they now say, by how much business they bring to local hotels, restaurants, and local attractions. This proposed convention centre is backwards and will be a disaster for Halifax and the Nova Scotia taxpayer, as it will also soon be considered outdated.
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