HALIFAX: Forestry contractors and woodlot owners can apply for additional silviculture and roadwork, starting February 14.

This follows last month’s announcement by Premier Stephen McNeil of a $7 million investment to help keep people working in rural Nova Scotia as the forestry sector adjusts to the closure of the Northern Pulp mill.

The Forestry Transition Team, forestry groups and private landowners provided input into how the funding will be used.

This includes $3.5 million for the enhanced private woodland silviculture program, delivered by the Association for Sustainable Forestry and split between the western and central regions. The program will be open to private woodland owners with properties between 20 and 20,000 hectares. Eligible applicants include woodlot owners that conduct activities including harvesting, silviculture, maple syrup operations, or Christmas trees operations.

There will be $2.5 million for Crown land silviculture and roadwork. This includes $1 million for silviculture practices that produce wood, like commercial thinning or partial harvesting, that aligns with recommendations of the Lahey report on forestry practices, and $1.5 million for Crown road maintenance and upgrades.

Under the program, $1 million will be provided through Forest Nova Scotia to deliver the private roads program. Private woodland owners with properties between 20 hectares and 20,000 hectares will be eligible to apply. The funding is additional to the annual $720,000 for private woodland roads across the province.

Details on the application processes for private woodland roads will be available on the Forest Nova Scotia website, and for private land silviculture on the Association for Sustainable Forestry Web site on February 14.

This funding is part of the $50 million transition fund announced on December 20.

“This funding will provide certainty of roadwork for some of our landowners and contractors,” said Jeff Bishop of Forest Nova Scotia. “We’ll move forward quickly to ensure everyone who applies finds out as soon as possible what more work they will have this season.”

Government currently spends almost $5 million annually on silviculture and roads on private lands. The investment is estimated to support about 250 people working.

To date, the $50 million transition fund is supporting $7 million for this additional silviculture and road work, $5 million for government to provide a guarantee for a contractor financing program, $1.5 million to help workers from across the sector connect to customized programming in the skilled trades, at no cost, and emergency assistance funding for laid-off workers available through local Access Nova Scotia centres.

A toll-free line (1-888-315-0110) is available for those affected and have questions. A confidential, 24-7 support line (1-866-885-6540) is available for anyone who may need emotional support.

The Forestry Sector Support Web site is at: https://novascotia.ca/forestry-sector-support. Details on the application processes for private woodland roads will be available on the Forest Nova Scotia Web site: http://forestns.ca/. Details on the application processes for private land silviculture will be available on the Association for Sustainable Forestry Web site: http://www.asforestry.com/.

For more on the closure of Northern Pulp, go to: https://porthawkesburyreporter.com/plan-to-work-with-credit-unions-for-northern-pulp-contractors-criticized-by-opposition/.