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‘I can see the devastation,’ says former forester prepared to protest clearcut

A carpenter and former forest technician in Nova Scotia’s Shelburne County who says he’s never protested in his life is adding his voice to the calls for a moratorium on clear cutting in the area.

Carmen Williams lives near a 154-hectare area in Allendale approved for clear cut and said he recently added his signature to a letter to the Department of Lands and Forestry because he could see the need for action.

“I just feel that it needs to be done. I can see the devastation,” Williams, who lives in Lockeport, recently told CBC’s Information Morning.

More than a thousand people have signed the letter calling for a moratorium, at least until the area can be re-assessed in light of the province’s acceptance of the recommendations in the Lahey report, which examined forestry practices in Nova Scotia. 

They’re requesting that the province consult with the community and are asking for a meeting with the minister. So far, said Williams, “there’s been no consultation.”

The harvesting will be done through forestry consortium WestFor, and Williams said he and others are prepared greet the arrival of the trucks in Allendale with protest placards.

Nova Scotia Forestry Minister Iain Rankin said his department has made progress on the recommendations from the Lahey report. (CBC)

Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin said there is a process in place for people to submit feedback on clear cutting.

“There will always be groups that aren’t happy with certain treatments in certain areas and in this case, this group has voiced their concerns,” he said.

Rankin said the department has received the petition and will respond as it does with all correspondence. 

The minister also said the government is working on incorporating the forest management recommendations of the Lahey report and has made “significant progress” towards that goal. 

Rankin said the report would not necessarily change how the area in Allendale is harvested, as it allows for clear cutting in certain circumstances — such as when a forest is composed of shorter-lived species such as black spruce, as is the case in Allendale. 

“It does not change the fact that there will always be areas that are intensively harvested.”

Rankin would not commit to a meeting with the people who signed the letter, and said there is a mechanism for the public to submit feedback through the harvest plans map viewer.

Want to see it done better

But Williams said the trees aren’t his only concern with the proposed clearcut, and that mainland moose — an endangered species — have been spotted in the area.

Having worked as a forester himself, Williams said he’s not against forestry, but wants to see a conversation with the government about how it can be done differently. 

“We just want to see it done in a better manner.”

If that does not yield results in Allendale, Williams said he’s prepared to protest. 

“This is out of my comfort zone, but I’m prepared, and I know there’s at least 40 or 50 people who said that they would do it.”

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