More land being sought for Mi’kmaw Forestry Initiative

(From the left): Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin, Chief Roderick Googoo, forestry lead for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, and Chief Terrance Paul of Membertou and co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs announce Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaw Forestry Initiative on March 15.

HALIFAX: The provincial government and the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia launched a forestry pilot project last week and they are looking for more land to expand.

The initiative, announced on March 15, gives the Mi’kmaq forest planning and management responsibility on two blocks of Crown land – one in Hants County, and another in Digby and Annapolis counties – totalling about 20,000 hectares.

“This initiative increases Mi’kmaw involvement in the forest sector using their philosophies on how forestry is conducted,” said Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin. “We share a common goal of ecological forestry and it makes sense that the Mi’kmaq should have a greater role in the health of our forests.”

The pilot project is for a period of three years. The experience gained during this time is intended to help with the development of a longer-term agreement.

“The Mi’kmaw Forestry Initiative will see the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia be architects of a system to develop their own expertise in forestry and land management, while still being mindful of our traditionally held values of resource management and protection,” said Chief Rod Googoo, forestry lead for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. “We are happy to partner with the province on this important and culturally significant project.”

With the aim of creating opportunities for jobs, training and for business development in silviculture and harvesting, Chief Googoo noted that the pilot project is possible because the department set aside large blocks of forestry lands. He added that the search is on for more land.

“Lands and forestry is also committed to working with us to find addition lands in eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton to add to the project,” Googoo told The Reporter.

Professor Bill Lahey recommended the province support a Mi’kmaw Forestry Initiative in his Independent Review of Forest Practices.

The province will contribute $600,000 to the initiative over three years. The Mi’kmaq have secured $873,600 from the Government of Canada to support forest planning for the initiative.