Atlantic Forestry March 2019

Science and the beast
Glyphosate gets the all-clear from Health Canada

by David Palmer
“Enjoy your deli sandwich – it is riskier than glyphosate.” With those words, Dr. Len Ritter, professor of toxicology at the University of Guelph, wrapped up a 30-minute pre-lunchtime lecture summarizing the dozen or so studies conducted by national regulatory agencies since 2010 on a herbicide that is widely used in agriculture and forestry (and also in home and garden applications) to control unwanted competitive growth

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Atlantic Forestry January 2019

Lahey implementation brings uncertainty, high hopes, intellectual honesty

After studying Bill Lahey’s forestry review report for more than three months, the Nova Scotia government came through with an official response on Dec. 3, announcing its intention to fully embrace a new “ecological forestry” paradigm and to implement the “triad” approach (whereby land is designated either for conservation, for high-production timber management, or as “matrix” forest where multi-aged management prevails).

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Atlantic Forestry November 2018

Seeing eye to eye

by David Palmer
By the time this issue of AFR goes to print, the Brian Gallant government (with 21 seats) will have recalled the New Brunswick legislature; delivered a throne speech designed to lure the Green Party (with three seats) and “progressive” PCs to vote in his favour; failed to win the confidence of the House; and resigned. Blaine Higgs and the PCs (with 22 seats) will have been asked by the Lieutenant Governor to have a go at forming the government, which they will do with the precarious unofficial support of the People’s Alliance (with three seats), giving them a razor-thin majority.

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Atlantic Forestry September 2018

Dispatches from B.C.
by David Palmer It was just two years ago that we sold my father’s house in Victoria and moved Dad to Fredericton so we could be near him in his final months. Now we are back in B.C., carrying his ashes home for interment in the family plot at St. Peter’s Church, near Duncan. Family and friends gather to say good-bye to a kind man with a consuming interest in life, a sharp wit, and a constant smile.

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Atlantic Forestry July 2018

The product and the purpose
    It’s interesting to see forestry issues being raised in the leadup to the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives’ leadership convention, which is slated for Oct. 26-27 in Halifax. Early on in the race, Kings North MLA John Lohr positioned himself as the candidate who is most ardently devoted to Northern Pulp. He came out swinging against the McNeil government’s imposition of a 2020 deadline for decommissioning the Boat Harbour effluent treatment facility used by the mill – and also against P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan…

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Atlantic Forestry May 2018

Switching to wood heat
    A letter from NB Power arrived recently, notifying us that our household had been selected for the Home Energy Report Program. It compared our power consumption with “average neighbours,” who consumed 2,237 kWh of electricity in the 30-day period starting Feb. 13, and “efficient neighbours,” who used an average of 1,752 kWh. At 790 kWh, we came in at less than half the efficient ones.

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Atlantic Forestry March 2018

Discipline and sobriety
    It was kind of cute – borderline embarrassing, actually – to witness the expressions of mutual affection between the Nova Scotia forest industry and the legal team that has represented the province in the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber trade dispute. When Tom Beline and Jack Levy, lawyers with Cassidy Levy Kent, came up from Washington to speak at Forest Nova Scotia’s 2018 AGM, they heaped lavish praise upon their hosts, and they were welcomed as conquering heroes.

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Atlantic Forestry January 2018

Uncertainty abounds
    It looks like one great big mess in New Brunswick’s forest industry these days. The marketing board system lies in ruins after a ruling from the provincial Forest Products Commission; punitive softwood lumber tariffs have been imposed against New Brunswick sawmills; the Doaktown sawmill project promised by J.D. Irving has been postponed again due to market uncertainty; and the Auditor General’s report on the market system in New Brunswick is under attack and will be reviewed by an “independent” consultant.

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Atlantic Forestry November 2017

Warming up to it
    Things are looking merry and bright for Christmas tree producers in the Maritimes this fall. Demand is strong, and a relatively low Canadian dollar holds the promise of tidy profits on exports. I talked to a grower in Lunenburg County – yep, still the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Capital of the World – who said he was going to be tempted to over-harvest his lot, though he welcomed the opportunity to get rid of some lower-grade trees.

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Atlantic Forestry September 2017

Looking for the greatest
    From the summit of Mount Carlton, New Brunswick’s highest point (2,693 feet, or 820 metres), one can see 65 kilometres on a clear day – a view that encompasses 13,273 square kilometres and 10 million trees, according to literature from Mount Carleton Provincial Park. It’s a great place to reflect on the immensity of the world and the smallness of oneself. To the everyday outdoor enthusiast, looking out on a virtually unbroken sea of rolling green hills, it’s an impressive sight.

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Atlantic Forestry July 2017

Now for something completely different
    Don’t be alarmed! Atlantic Forestry Review has not been transformed into a lifestyle rag aimed at the demographic of dog-walking, bicycle-commuting, park-picnicking city dwellers. But you can’t be blamed for thinking something weird is going on. This summer issue of the magazine looks pretty different, because it has a focus on urban forests. We’ve never done this before. The idea came from Dr. Peter Duinker, a professor at Dalhousie University’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies.

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Atlantic Forestry May 2017

It’s all relative
    There is a sad irony in the fact that we now look to the European forestry nations – especially Scandinavia – with envy and awe. Government and industry people alike practically salivate when they see pictures of those well-stocked, perfectly-tended stands – living warehouses of timber wealth, promising fantastic levels of harvest efficiency. A few hundred years ago, when Europeans started nosing around in this part of the world, they were similarly awed by the forests here – not only the expanse of woodland, but the size and quality of the timber.

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Atlantic Forestry March 2017

Big numbers, heavy artillery
    It’s hard to square the upbeat message and positive numbers in recent Irving ads, trumpeting the past year’s purchases of private wood, with the glum mood that prevails among woodlot owner organizations, which feel they are being increasingly sidelined by the big forestry company. “To date, JDI is … on target to purchase 870,000 cubic metres of private wood. This will be the most private wood the company has ever purchased,” the ad states.

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Atlantic Forestry January 2017

An inconvenient truth about woodlot taxes
    I always figured it was just a matter of time before the tax man knocked on the woodlot owner’s door. A CBC investigation into special tax deals and breaks – who gets them and why –was precipitated by a caller to a phone-in back in September who asked New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant what he was going to do about those special property tax deals. Gallant’s response was that if there are inequitable arrangements, people should tell him about them, and the government will look into it.

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Atlantic Forestry November 2016

This is getting old
    My father-in-law took the family out for supper at a nice restaurant during a weekend visit this fall, and noticed Chicken Cordon Bleu on the menu. He asked the waitress, “Is that a full cordon, or just a face cordon.” It’s always a pleasure to spend time with people who share your love for the woods, especially when their perspective varies somewhat from your own. Jay enjoyed checking out our woodlot, whose composition is pretty different from his land in the Ottawa Valley.

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Atlantic Forestry September 2016

The re-greening of the world
    The scientific community warned that 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was the threshold level that would lead to a potentially irreversible 1.5 degree C warming of the Earth’s temperature. That point was recently surpassed, not on the Hawaiian mountain top of Mauna Loa where carbon dioxide has been tracked for decades, but on a little known island in the Indian Ocean, far from local influences.

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Atlantic Forestry July 2016

The big stuff
    We had some fine weather for woods work this spring – pretty dry, reasonably cool, with the blackfly index ranging from low to moderate. (Yes, I consider blackflies a meteorological condition that ought to be included in daily Environment Canada forecasts.) Now that we’re getting hot days, the prospect of wearing chainsaw pants or chaps is less attractive. But summer is short. You’ve got to bask in the sun and enjoy it while you can.

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Atlantic Forestry March 2016

Clinging, falling, sticking
    As sure as water flows downhill, so too do wayward leaves of oak and beech, released from their clinging grip on twisty twigs by winter’s sharp, biting westerlies, come to rest in a fresh ski path. They hang on obstinately through harsh November gales and hard December frosts, only to release and lie in wait to trip up an unwary skier expecting that the track just laid down on the way out will be a clean, debris-free runway on the way home.

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Atlantic Forestry January 2016

Trade-offs
    On a recent visit to southern Ontario for a family funeral, I took a stroll around the old neighborhood and stopped to read a historical plaque commemorating the site of Upper Canada’s first paper mill. There in the little town of Flamborough (now amalgamated with Hamilton), barely a mile from my childhood home, the industrialist James Crooks began operating the mill in 1826. It continued producing paper until it was destroyed by fire in 1875 – a good long run by today’s standards. 

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Atlantic Forestry November 2015

Too much wood, not enough information
    When Jason Killam, J.D. Irving’s silviculture manager, proclaimed in an official tone at the fall meeting of the Canadian Woodlands Forum that “round wood pulp wood is dead,” he was merely confirming what woodlot owners have pretty well known for a decade. It was always assumed there would be a home for the saw logs though. However, as the second round of sawmill market closures rolls across New Brunswick,

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