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TREPA outlines danger of clear-cutting in region

Soil nutrients, including calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, will wash out of the soil when the forest is removed.
Soil nutrients, including calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, will wash out of the soil when the forest is removed. - Carla Allen

Granite topography means it can take centuries for replacement of nutrients washed away in clearcuts

South West Nova Scotia - Members of the Tusket River Environmental Protection Association (TREPA) remain concerned about active and planned clear-cutting in this region and other areas of Nova Scotia, including large tracts of crown land.

Barrie MacGregor, a spokesperson for the organization, says it’s disappointing considering the work that was done via Buy Back Nova Scotia with the intention that the land purchased by the Crown will be treated in an environmentally sensitive way.

“We have also worked through our MLA Zach Churchill to get clarification from the minister of Nnatural resources on what cutting is planned for this end of the province.

“We’re very concerned about clear-cutting adjacent to the Tobeatic and Keji. We rarely see partial harvests on Crown land. Some lots are designated partial cuts but are just first stage of a clear cut. The harvester comes back in three to 10 years to get the rest,” he said.

For some time TREPA has been a partner with the Healthy Forest Coalition, the group that recently staged the Funeral for Nova Scotia Forests in Halifax.

Clear-cutting has a negative impact on much flora and fauna. Some plant species can disappear entirely and wildlife has to move to other territory that may be already occupied by the same species.

MacGregor says that some species, like white tail deer, are happy in a clear cut but they need shelter in the winter or will not survive. Mainland moose prefers forest, along with gray jays and bobcats.

“Lots of small birds depend on seeds and if the trees are gone there is no feed. They can’t switch to eating out of a clear cut so a lot of wildlife will simply starve,” he said.

In addition to the direct impact that clear-cutting has on wildlife, soil nutrients, including calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, will wash out of the soil when the forest is removed.

Soil gets exposed to direct sunlight, resulting in further degradation, says MacGregor.

“Because we are sitting on granite in southwest Nova Scotia it can take centuries for those nutrients to come back. Some tree species that thrive in sunlight will come back, but with harvesting in 30 to 50 years they will not have time to provide the canopy for shade-loving trees.”

Shade lovers include red spruce, yellow birch, hemlock, beech and sugar maple, some of the highest valued trees.

“We’re simply not growing old forests any more,” he said.

More about clearcutting in Nova Scotia

To see the state of Nova Scotia forests, visit this link for the harvest plan map viewer.

 

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