HALIFAX: With the preparatory phase of an independent review of Nova Scotia’s forest practices set to get under way this month, the provincial Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering few details as to the nature of this review’s consultation phase or the subject matter to be addressed.

Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller announced last week that the president of the University of King’s College, William Lahey, will review forest practices and evaluate market access for private forest owners over the next six months.

According to a DNR release, a preparatory phase will occur between September and December to assemble and review background material, retain independent experts and commission background papers, with December and January set aside for an issue identification and review period that involves outlining major issues, Mi’kmaw engagement, and stakeholder and public input. Analysis and report preparation will occur early in the New Year, with a final report to be submitted to the minister’s office by February 28, 2018.

- Advertisement -

While DNR representative Krista Higdon did not directly answer The Reporter’s questions regarding the exact nature of the consultation phase or whether Lahey would visit the Strait area as part of his work over the next six months, she did pledge that all previous and upcoming input from industry stakeholders will play a role in the review.

“The terms of reference for the review include building on stakeholder, Mi’kmaq and public input that has occurred on the issue of forestry in recent years,” Higdon said in an e-mail sent Friday morning.

“In order to inform the review, additional opportunities for input will be provided, designed by and under the direction of Professor Lahey. What specifically these will look like it is too soon to tell.”

In terms of the role of foresty-dependent businesses like Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) and its woodlands operations in the upcoming forest practices review, Higdon did not offer a specific response but suggested that issues pertaining to such industries would likely factor in the review process.

“The concerns of market access for private forest owners, particularly in the western region, will be addressed in this review,” she concluded.

The DNR release announcing the review suggested that Lahey “will be supported by independent technical experts and other resources,” as he carries out a review of existing forest harvest practices including strengths and weaknesses and the overall role of Crown wood supply throughout Nova Scotia. Lahey is also expected to provide recommendations for improvement regarding how Nova Scotia balances long-term environmental, social and economic interests in managing the province’s forests.

“The sustainable management of our natural resources is vitally important to all Nova Scotians,” Minister Miller stated in the release. “I welcome Professor Lahey to the task of leading a thorough and independent review that examines the forest practice issues that are so important to Nova Scotians.”

The forest practices review’s terms of reference are available at the following Web link: www.novascotia.ca/natr/forestry/Forest_Review. For further details, email: forestryreview@novascotia.ca.