Few other industries or aspects of modern society has an impact on the landscape as far reaching as the forestry industry. Over 95% of forests harvested in Nova Scotia are harvested using the technique of clearcutting. Clearcutting a forest involves cutting down virtually every standing tree in a given area, leaving an exposed wasteland of tree limbs and tire ruts where a rich shady forest once stood. Between 1975 and 1999, almost 10,000 km2 of Nova Scotian forest was clearcut , which is more than a sixth of all the land in the province, and almost a quarter of the forested area.
The condition of Nova Scotia forests has been greatly degraded by 400 years of timber harvesting and human development. Over the past two decades, the rate of cutting has doubled by volume with the introduction of mechanical harvesting, and in the last decade alone, the area clearcut annually has doubled to almost 70,000 hectares a year. In Nova Scotia, almost all harvesting (98%) is accomplished by clearcutting or similar even-aged management systems. Over the last 40 years, the percentage of Nova Scotia forest older than 80 years old has fallen from 25 percent to just one percent. And trees older than 100 years have become reduced to scattered groves representing less than one half of one percent of our forest.
Forestry occurs on both private and Public Land. Almost 80% of provincially owned Public Land is unprotected, and most of this land is open to clearcut forestry. Once a forest is clearcut, it is forever altered. Some kind of forest will grow back, but it will have less soil with fewer nutrients to grow on, less diversity of plant and animal species and less genetic diversity.
Forestry companies often encourage one or two tree species over others to repopulate clearcuts, which creates a monoculture (a single species forest) of tress all of the same age and size. This even-aged monoculture is far less diverse than the natural multi-aged (or uneven-aged) multiculture (many species) forest, and these forests support a much less diverse community of living things. Considering that the aim of a Protected Areas Network is to support bio"diversity", it becomes clear that clearcut forestry and the monocultures it creates are not consistent with the aims of protecting Nova Scotia's wild heritage.
Industrial Forestry Links
© Nova Scotia Public Lands Coalition, Ecology Action Centre, 2006