On May 12, DNR posted a proposal online to clear cut 13 hectares of forest along the northeastern boundary of the wilderness area near Dalhousie in the Cobequid Mountains of Pictou County. DNR is also proposing another four-hectare clearcut about 300 metres from the boundary in the same area.
Chris Miller, national conservation biologist with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), worked on the Parks and Protected Spaces Plan with the provincial government.
He is disappointed to see government considering this kind of disturbance so close to a wilderness area.
“When you look at the satellite images you can see there has already been a lot of disturbance in that area,” he said. “The Gully Lake Wilderness Area is literally an island of conservation in a sea of disturbance.”
The Gully Lake Wilderness Area protects 3,810 hectares of upland hardwood forest.
“These clearcuts are yet another example of industry coming right up to a boundary – industry is knocking on the door of our protected spaces and when you cut the forest right up to the boundary, the impacts are pushed into the protected area,” said Miller. “The proper way to be managing a landscape is as you move towards the boundary of a protected area, the less suitable those woods are for forestry – the disturbance should lessen as you approach the boundary.”
Miller and CPAWS wrote to the Department of Environment last November to ask for a policy limiting the amount of clear cutting near a protected space and laying out guidelines for road design and other measures to limit the impacts of tree cutting on protected areas.
At the time he received the following reply from the Department of Environment:
“Nova Scotia Environment is not currently playing a role in reviewing forestry plans on lands adjacent to protected areas. However, we are engaging in discussions with the Department of Natural Resources regarding opportunities for complementary planning and management for adjacent Crown lands.”
When the Truro Daily News asked the Department of Natural Resources for an update on those talks this May, six months later, DNR responded similarly:
“Discussions are currently underway between the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environment regarding Crown land operations adjacent to protected areas.”
Miller says while the departments are talking the province should wait on approving cuts near protected space.
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The public can make comments on the proposed Gully Lake clear cuts until May 31.
To comment on the harvest plans, the public should visit the Nova Scotia Harvest Plans Map Viewer https://nsgi.novascotia.ca/hpmv/ and click on the unlabelled icon of an envelope with a green arrow, and then click on the harvest site about which you wish to comment. The cuts near Gully Lake are referenced with the Block ID number of PI173495.