Also View: Citizen Scientists Letter
Note: The Goldmsith Lake forests are in the same sweep of land as the The Corbett Lake Old Hardwood Forest which were identified as at risk from then Department of Lands & Forestry in late 2018; and as Beals Meadow, another Crown land site for which alarm bells were raised by Randy Neily in June of 2021 (and also 22 years earlier), and where subsequently the Last Hope Wildlife Corridor encampment by Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia & friends was set up on Nov 1, 2021. That ended on June 21, 2022 following in part discovery of many endangered lichens on the site. Subsequently the government of NS changed hands but so far, that has not changed the culture at the NS Dept. of Lands and Forestry, now NS Natural Resources and Renewables…
UPDATE Nov 28, 2022:
Logging could continue in Annapolis County forest despite identification of species at risk
Paul Palmeter · CBC News. The title was changed on Nov 29 to “Logging paused in Annapolis County forest after identification of species at risk”. From the updated article: “Late Monday, a provincial spokesperson told CBC News that the harvest plans have been paused in light of the new information. A plan by WestFor to harvest 343 hectares had been approved by the province but the government is now directing WestFor to conduct surveys after new information was reported to the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, Adele Poirier said in an email to CBC News. WestFor cannot harvest any trees until the province has reviewed the surveys, she added.”
UPDATE: More details are provided in a Halifax Examiner Article:‘Citizen scientists’ call on Houston to freeze all logging around Goldsmith Lake in Annapolis County by Joan Baxter Nov 25, 2022
Press release: Citizen Scientists of the Southwest Nova Biosphere
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Nov 25, 2022)
Citizen Scientists discover SAR lichens and a new logging road in proposed protected area.
A group of citizen scientists in Southwest Nova Scotia are asking the premier to freeze harvests and road-building immediately in the forests surrounding Goldsmith Lake in Annapolis County.
This patch of crown land on the South Mountain inland from Tupperville is known to biologists and local residents for its old, relatively undisturbed forests. It includes two provincially recognized patches of old-growth.
Citizens, including a respected conservation planner, alerted the province to the high conservation value of the area earlier in the year. But on October 22nd, a group of citizen scientists out exploring and documenting the biodiversity of the western side of the lake came upon a brand new logging road.
The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables has confirmed to Annapolis County MLA Carman Kerr that harvest plans for 1355 acres around the lake have been approved.
In the month since the discovery of the road the group has identified eight occurrences of Species At Risk in the area: a Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra); a Blue Felt lichen (Degelia plumbea) and 6 Frosted Glass Whiskers lichen (Sclerophora peronella). The Blue Felt lichen has recently been named Nova Scotia’s Provincial Lichen.
On Monday the group received a response to their request that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change place under consideration for protection three areas of rare and exceptional ecological value in the Annapolis River Watershed: Goldsmith Lake, Beals Brook and Great LaHave Lake.
The Minister informed the group his department is planning to roll out a collaborative strategy by the end of 2023 to identify areas for possible protection under the province’s legal commitment to protect 20% of Nova Scotia’s lands and waters by 2030.
Rob Bright, Citizen Science coordinator, Arlington Forest Protection Society – What will be left to protect by 2030 if they keep cutting the oldest, most ecologically valuable forests? We need immediate action to halt biodiversity loss, not plans to talk about plans. That’s why we are asking the premier to place an immediate freeze on logging in this area.
DNRR admitted, back in February that their predictive modelling for identifying SAR habitat was flawed. That was after citizen scientists found 15 Species At Risk lichens in a cut block at Beals Brook DNRR claimed to have reviewed not once but twice. They even floated the idea of training citizen scientists to identify SAR habitat. Well, that hasn’t happened but we are going ahead and teaching ourselves.
I hope groups of citizen scientists will form in other parts of the province too. Somebody has to treat biodiversity loss as an emergency and it doesn’t look as if the government is going to do it.
Lisa Proulx, Citizen Scientist — I’ve been spending a lot of time in the woods around Goldsmith Lake. This is a special place. It was a real shock after being in the mossy old forest with all these huge Yellow Birch to come upon that new logging road.
Who needs to clearcut a 100’ wide strip 2km long to put in an 18’ wide road? Is that what they are calling ‘ecological’ forestry? I know ours wasn’t the only proposal to protect this area but it doesn’t seem like those are going anywhere. It’s frustrating.
I’m doing what I can, learning more about the natural world. It’s fun, actually. I took part in the lichen workshop they put on out at the Last Hope camp. In fact I identified 4 of the occurrences of Black Foam lichen there. We haven’t found any of that here – it’s a different kind of forest – but I did discover a Frosted Glass Whiskers lichen on the east side of Goldsmith Lake. Others have found more on the west side.
They are \Two Species At Risk so each one gets a 100m buffer. That’s good but what I’d like is for the province to listen to what scientists have been saying for a long time: it’s not about protecting individual occurrences of Species At Risk, it’s about protecting their habitat. Lichens like the Frosted Glass Whiskers lichen are extremely vulnerable to sudden changes in light and humidity. Finding them tells you that you are in very old, undisturbed forest habitat.
That’s important habitat for all sorts of other species too. Protect these lichens’ habitat and you can be pretty sure you are protecting a lot of other species too, from the birds and mammals that depend on old forests to the mosses and liverworts.
It’s about more than putting a 100m buffer around individual lichens. I look at that logging road and I shudder at what any kind of cutting in this forest would do. It needs to be protected now, not after they’ve logged in here.
From a post on Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia Nov 25, 2022 (Public Facebook Group)
‘They call themselves “citizen scientists of the Southwest Nova Biosphere,” and they’ve written to Premier Tim Houston asking him to “freeze harvests and road-building immediately in the forests surrounding Goldsmith Lake in Annapolis County.”
This follows the group’s discovery on Oct. 22 of a new logging road near Goldsmith Lake, and information obtained by Annapolis County MLA Carman Kerr that the province has approved harvesting on 1,355 acres of Crown land in the area, part of the 555,000 acres that Nova Scotians bought from Bowater for $117.7 million in 2012.’
The rest of this article is behind a paywall for good reason. Journalists of Joan Baxter’s calibre need to get paid for their work. Support the Halifax Examiner if you can.
In the meantime, here’s The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables singing the blues at the end of the piece: “The blocks were posted to the Harvest Plan Map Viewer. The approved harvests follow the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix. Months after the whole process concluded and approvals were issued, new information was just reported to the department and we’re looking into it. We’ve directed WestFor to conduct surveys and they are in the process of scheduling them. Operations will not start until we’ve looked into it.”
The thing is, several of the citizen scientists did make comments on the HPMV back when the first tranche of plans was made known to the public.
Here’s the comment Nina Newington submitted on April 8th for one of the parcels: AP021213G
“While Single Tree Selection is an acceptable prescription for ecological forestry, the scale of this cut at 67.85 ha is excessive when you consider that it adjoins another extensive proposed cut of 78.72 ha (AP 021211D). Worse yet, more cuts are planned in the immediate vicinity. A total of over 260 hectares will be disrupted to varying degrees. This in an area which should not, in fact, be available for any harvesting, however ecological, if we are to meet Lahey’s primary recommendation: the protection and enhancement of ecosystem health must be from now on the “overarching priority” in how this province manages its forests. This means that the few remaining areas of intact Wabanaki-Acadian forest left on crown land can no longer be made available for harvesting. The area surrounding Goldsmith Lake and reaching east to Dalhousie Lake must be placed under consideration for protection. Specifically this proposed cutblock on the west side of Goldsmith Lake contains some of the least disrupted mature to old Wabanaki-Acadian forest on the whole north side of the South Mountain. It is a gem. Leave it alone.”