Two days after receiving a long-awaited independent review of the province’s forest practices, the Nova Scotia government isn’t ready to say whether they’ll accept the recommendations and are hesitant to give a timeline on when that decision will be made.
The report, penned by University of King’s College president Bill Lahey, outlines 45 recommendations for sweeping change to how the forestry industry operates in Nova Scotia.
Among them is a massive reduction in clear-cutting on Crown land along with other suggestions on moving toward prioritizing the environment with a more ecological forestry model.
But Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin isn’t ready to say where they stand in regards to the 70-page document, offering no hints as to what might be accepted, other than saying he agrees with Lahey that the ecological makeup of the forest should be the first consideration.
“I loathe to look at an individual recommendation out of the 45,” he said in a media scrum Thursday. “Each of the recommendations will need to be looked at carefully and equally.”
Despite keeping his cards close to his chest, Rankin indicated the department is ready to transition to newer methods going forward.
“I would endorse that there’s room for improvement in terms of how we look at our pre-treatment assessments,” he admitted.
“We are prepared to make changes.”
Those changes are presently unclear, which Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill says is unacceptable. He believes the recent review’s guidelines to reduce clear cutting will be “swept under the rug” by the provincial government.
“This government received, when they came into office, a plan for the reduction of clear cutting, which they put in the garbage,” he said.
“Professor Lahey has come forward and rebuked that, criticized it, rejected it, said we must have a plan and here is another plan,” Burrill continued. “The critical thing now is the government change its course, hear the advice that’s being received and apply the limitations to clear cutting that the people are crying out for.”
Premier Stephen McNeil was also hesitant to discuss the report, which he told reporters he had not yet read.
Although non-committal on when an answer could be expected, the premier says their decision will be coming soon as the Legislative Assembly’s reopening is drawing near.
“I don’t want to put a timeline for the minister, but we’re going to have to do something this fall,” McNeil said. “We’re going to be in the house, I’m sure this’ll be part of the conversation that’ll happen in question period.”