Municipality of the District of Lunenburg,  From Wikipedia

MODL is the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg
Municipality website.
– Municipality of the District of Lunenburg on Wikipedia

The Municipality has been very progressive in its response to climate change and related sustainability issues – see for example, an article by Victoria Welland, April 5, 2023 in the Nova Scotia Journal of Sustainable Community Development: Making MODL citizens: Going green at local level means leading by example.

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg is taking climate action into its own hands with a 10-year plan to build a sustainable, resilient and net-zero community.


In July of 2023, Lunenburg Municipality resident George Buranyi made a presentation to Municipal Council seeking support for the SOOF (Save Our Old Forest Campaign).

On Nov 21, 2023, a motion was carried recommending that “Municipal Council write a letter to the Provincial Minister responsible for Natural Resources and Renewables, Tory Rushton, with copies to Premier Houston and local MLAs Becky Druhan and Susan Corkum-Greek, requesting expedited identification of all Old Growth Forests on Crown Land in the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg.”

For more info. on these initiatives, see subpage Old Forest/Old Growth Presentation/Discussions, MODL 2023

On June 11, 2024, WestFor Management Inc made a presentation to the Municipal Council on Old Growth, apparently as a follow-up to the SOOF presentation. From the intro:

Thank you for letting us come in to talk to you this morning, so I’m Breck Stewart …the General Manager at Westfor Management Inc. and Makyle McLellan is our management Forester and Spencer Coulstring is our for Forest Stewardship Manager.

So… we were asked to I guess come in and speak to you about a presentation that you had last year sometime about a petition to protect forest older than 80 years old I believe in the Municipality.

The WestFor folks laid out in some detail, with slides, the practices they follow to conserve Old Growth in conjunction with implementation of the TRIAD to the forests of SW Nova Scotia.

MODL Meeting Agenda with Westfor Slides (PDF Pages 16-20)
Audio of Westfor Presentation


HOST We have 3 presentations altogether, and our second one is Old Growth forests with WestFor Management company …

Screen capture of slide from PDF Page 16

BRECK STUART/WestFor 00:42 …thank you for letting us come in to talk to you this morning, so I’m Breck Stewart …the General Manager at WestFor Management Inc. and Makyle McLellan is our management Forester and Spencer Coulstring is our for Forest Stewardship Manager.

So … we were asked to I guess come in and speak to you about a presentation that you had last year sometime about a petition to protect forest older than 80 years old I believe in the Municipality.

….. So a little background on WestFor. So we are a Crown land forest management company only, so we only operate on Crown land and so we were established in 2016 by a group of 12 mills who all had licenseship on Crown land in western Nova Scotia and between the Department of Natural Resources and the 12 mills they all agreed that the best way to manage the Crown forest of western Nova Scotia would be to create a separate entity, which would be WestFor which does all of the forest management on behalf of DNR and all of the licensees.

2:16 So moving forward I guess we obviously are mandated to follow all of the policies and guidelines and restrictions of the Department of Natural Resources and the management of Crown land so we we don’t get to make a lot of our own decisions in that respect.

We follow fairly strict standards that are set for us to meet.

That being said, we we don’t really get to stray a whole lot from what their policies and restrictions are…. I guess with respect to the the 80 year old, Old Forest concept, we well we …we certainly support protecting Old Forest, we support the the new provincial mandate to protect 20% of all of our land base…we were always looking for unique high conservation value forest to add to that mix to promote that concept.

As well Mikhail will speak in a few moments to some of the things that we do. It’s protection and conservation is incorporated in everything we do and all of the planning that we did we we go through.

So specifically to the protecting the 80 year Old Forest, there’s a number of things that we we probably don’t do a very good job of promoting around the province, one being that Nova Scotia is actually the only province in Canada that does not allow any harvesting of Old Growth forest on Crown land.

So we actually we have that badge unique to us and every patch of Old Forest that exists in the province today, whether we know about it or not, is already protected because you can’t touch a piece of Crown land that’s forested today without doing Old Growth assessments, species at risk assessments, other biodiversity assessments.

4:38 So those are all key pieces that happen on Crown land before any activity whether it be a parking lot, forest operation or anything. Before any of that stuff can happen. So I guess with being said I’ll pass it off to Mikhail to talk about how we actually go about addressing Old Growth and manage in the forest and we can take in questions after that.

HOST Just so that you know you have 10 minutes left ,so if you want questions in there.

MAKYLE MCLELLAN/WestFor: OK thank you. Good morning Counsel. I am Makyle Mclellan, the management Forrester at WestFor and we’re just going to talk about Old Forest and ecological forestry.

Screen capture of slide from PDF Page 16

So to start, what is Old Forest? It’s a bit small but essentially on Crown land in Nova Scotia Old Forest have it’s quite a long definition.

I have it up there but the short and sweet of it is that an Old Forest is an area defined at a minimum of one hectare in size where 20% of the basal area – basal area is how we measure trees in forestry, it is kind of the density so the top 20% of the basal area, the age of that tree needs to be equal or or needs to be greater than the reference age of by given forest group.

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6: 07 So here are the different forest groups we have in the province: tolerant hardwood, spruce-hemlocks with red spruce dominant, spruce hemlock with eastern hemlock dominant, mix wood, spruce pine forest, wet coniferous, wet deciduous and floodplain forests.

So these are the reference ages. So if we come across the stand that meets, that is say tolerant hardwood, we’re actually looking to make sure that that stand is under 140 years old. If it is over or is equal to 140 years old, then that would be Old Growth forest and would be unoperable to us. If it is close to that age we would look at potentially setting that stand aside for a restoration opportunity for Old Forest.

6: 55: One key note is wet coniferous, wet deciduous and wet- and floodplain- forests are actually not operable in the ecological matrix or at any part of forestry on Crown land, so those ages are quite low, so all of those if given the opportunity would reach Old Growth forest stage.

WestFor and Old Growth forests

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WestFor committed to the protection and restoration of Nova Scotia’s Old Growth forest. We screen all of our plans during our planning process with the provincial potential Old Growth forest layer – I’ll get into that in a few minutes – plans that overlap with this layer do get an Old Growth survey at the time of forest planning.

And another thing that we do in this is part of the province’s Old Growth policy is that any existing mapped Old Growth forest gets 100m area of interest or set us around it, and the activities inside of that 100m area of interest are, are kind of monitored by the department of natural resources to make sure that our actions aren’t going to affect the integrity of that piece of Old Growth forest.

The biggest part of that is the construction of new roads that might impede that and for 2024 WestFor has a goal to set aside 3% or 150 hectares of our annual operating plan for Old Growth forest or Old Growth restoration opportunity. Year-to-date we have already identified 85 hectares that will be going into the provincial policy protected Old Growth layer.

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8:50: I’m gonna touch on what ecological forestry is, which is the lion share of or most of the forestry that we do at WestFor. Currently it’s 100% of the forestry we do.

This is a quote from an ecological silviculture systems textbook but it is “an approach for managing forests including trees associated organisms and ecological functions based on emulation of natural models of development.”

What I like to say is ecological forestry is managing a forest for all of its parts not just the timber of traditional forestry. **You can see the middle picture of the presentation was the first ecological treatment that WestFor did and that was a trial done in 2020.

9:44 So as of June 1st 2022 WestFor all of us for harvest have been compliant with the silviculture guide to the ecological matrix, and that is a document that guides forest activities on the ecological matrix of section of Crown land.

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Some objectives to all of our harvest treatments are to increase and maintain the percentage of LIT species; LIT species are Long lived shade intermediate to tolerant and those are our typical Old Growth species would be classed as LIT species.

So we really want to promote those species through a harvesting creating vertical and horizontal forest structure and heterogeneity; we don’t want all uniform trees that’s not how the forest naturally grows; we want it to be patchy, we want dead standing trees, we want holes for regeneration to grow up.

And another thing we need is the retention of 15 to 20 trees per hectare marked as permanent reserve trees. Andoso I have a little table here *** right from the Silviculture Guide, what pertains permanent reserve tree.

What’s interesting enough is all of our harvesting requirements we’re trying to actually emulate an Old Forest structure. If these treatment requirements are very very close to the definition of Old Growth forests on crown land minus the age.

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So here’s a map of the Crown land in the municipality… on… I have a table of how much in percentage of each forest group; grand total there is almost 33,000 hectares of Crown land in the municipality – that is outlined in green on this map in the orange is already policy protected area.

So those are parks and protected area on Crown land.

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3600 hectors of modal Crown land is a sensitive forest group that is outside of harvest eligibility and those would be the wet coniferous, wet deciduous and floodplain forests.

12:13 So this next map in pink highlights the potential Old Growth layer. That is a tool developed by the forestry division at the department of natural resources and it uses forest inventory to score every forested stand not only on Crown land but actually in the province on a score of 0 to 11 on the likelihood of it being Old Growth forest due to force inventory information.

So we score every stand that is 7 or higher on that rating scale. So this map identifies that about 4000 hectares of Crown working forest is potentially Old Growth.

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13:00 Now where our plans overlap, this is where we do our Old Growth scoring. To put that in perspective, here is private lands on the municipality with the potential for Old Forest. So if you look where we’re really just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the conservation of Old Forest.

I do see WestFor and Crown Land Management as a role model to private land owners of the best forest practices to do and working around Old Growth forests.

Screen capture of slide from PDF Page 20

And then in conclusion, there’s this is a quote from Daniel Matthews: “ there’s a middle ground between clearcut logging and just shutting our eyes and hoping for the best. Chainsaws can be used as an intelligent tool for forestry.”

14:00 HOST Thank you, that’s wonderful really good information…. council mo… questions

COUNCIL MOORE Thank you the private pieces of land I think that that is the one that is probably the issue but you guys and there’s another there’s a sawmill in lunenburg county that will go in on help these private land owners to give them advice on managing the trees and getting the plan so that they can have both, the best of both kinds. OK thank you

. thank you very much for the presentation. How do your forestry practices align with the recommendations in the Lahey report.

14:50 MAKYLE MCLELLAN/WestFor they align 100% with the Lahey report recommendations.

COUNCILLOR DYLAN. Can you speak to what you do to protect habitats and species that are at risk?

MAKYLE MCLELLAN/WestFor So there are few, we have a we have a list of species at risk in the province and each one of them has an individual recovery plan. So depending on the species at risk, we implement their special management practices to it.

One example off the top of my head would be boreal felt lichen. There’s a predictive model for boreal felt lichen in the province and all of our plans with then; anything that would overlap we actually hire a lichenologist to go look for the lichen in in particular[ if they do find any lichens, the proper management practices set forth by the recovery team are implemented.

15:50 Another one would be mainland moose and they…if we’re in a if we’re operating in a core habitat for mainland moose, we also do the same proper recovery team recommendations meaning… in moose in particular require special moose shelter patches inside and outside of the harvest block.

So and then on top of that, we do have data from ACCDC which is kind of the Atlantic… I forget the acronym but they collect all species at risk data for the Maritimes and all of our harvest plans are screened against that to make sure that there’s nothing from those layers that impact.

16:30: And ACCDC data require, collects data from all, anybody who’s collecting forest data and actually from the public. So it’s quite a robust data set.

COUNCILLOR HAYSOM Thank you for all of the information. I think, excuse me, the point of the presentation that we had received, I think was that there are some concern about how we measure this this concept of Old Growth.

I do have concerns about the way the assessments are done because it seems to me that they are often done based on a computer model and it’s only once someone actually goes, if they do go, and do some investigation on the ground that there’s any further work done to see if there are species at risk or Old Growth stands.

And I might make the argument I’m really pleased to hear that WestFor has been compliant since 2022 with meeting all of those requirements but I might make the argument that that could be the direct result of some community members identifying some of those those challenges; and definitely making a move to protect those areas.

So I really appreciate the information that you’ve shared here today and I think that again the challenge seems to be as we move forward is this Old Growth minimum age and the concern that it’s harder and harder to find those minimum growths. So I do appreciate you coming in, it’s always interesting to hear directly from industry.

18:00 MAKYLE MCLELLAN/WestFor Yeah one thing to add on that, 100% of our stands are walked by forest planners at an intensity of one; like we do a cruise plot of actually aging the trees of one to two hectares, which is quite an intensive cruise in the maritimes’ but we walked a lot, 100% of the blocks that we operated have been walked andi aged and that that is not new that is that has been the Crown standard since before 2016.

COMMENT/WESTFOR  so that’s … if I could just add one point to that, you saw the diversity of the age classes in the actual provincial Old Growth forest policy and that actually comes with a lot of research and science over the years as to what quantifies an Old Growth forest in different forest types.

So in a sugar Maple forest, it requires a lot more time to mature, to develop some of the ecological functions of an Old Growth forest, versus coastal black spruce which you know cycles itself a lot soonerM you see a lot more blowdown and erosion and what not, so there is that whole aspect of it.

The other piece, somewhat counter intuitive with ecological forestry as Mikhail mentioned, all of our harvest plans nowadays in so ,,,we aren’t, we haven’t been doing any clear cutting for two years; if we get back into some high production harvesting which would be limited to only 10% of the land base which is essentially tree farming, it be spruce plantations, but that leaves the remainder of all the Crown land will always be managed under this ecological forestry model.

The main function of that is to try to develop that multi-age, to replicate an Old Growth forest, so we would be operating in forest stands that have trees, so could be a few 100 years old some portion of that, as well as trees that are 20 years old,

So we’re trying to keep the forest in that multi-aged diverse state which you know helps the diversity of critters and fauna and flora and everything else.

So the 80 year cap doesn’t really work scientifically; in the forest world it’s just kind of a arbitrary number whereas we actually have a lot of science and research that shows the different categories of ages that meet that specific Old Growth, you know Steve talked about the feel of an Old Growth forest..there are things there that come with certain different ages with different species classes.
21:01 HIST. Councillor Mo.., you have a question?

COUNCILLOR MOORE.., Regarding the climate change in last year’s fires, are you aware that the Greenfield volunteer airport clubs looking for support for jet fuel dump for forest fire fighting aerial operations. The closest one to us is Yarmouth and Digby and it’s time very time consuming for the planes and expensive to fly back and forth to get water to fuel sorting dump water, but is there anyway you can support that club financially or some group somehow?

WESTFOR Definitely, right off the top, we have community grant program, so from each county in the province that we harvest, we set aside a dollar per cord or $0.50 a ton of the our fiber that we harvest, we set that aside to give back to the community in each county.

So we just went through a round of receiving applications and we’ve got quite a few and we’ve given up close to $1,000,000 in the last few years to give back to the communities. So that would definitely be in that application phase would be a great place to to put that forward.

but it’s also something that as I said we’ve got 12 shareholders in all of the mills in western Nova Scotia who obviously have a keen interest in protecting the forest from fire, so they probably would be interested in something like that to support the cause as well yes and so with DNR I would think…

COUNCILLOR MOORE.., we’re looking probably 150,000 to get the dump and it’s all run by volunteers and they’re willing to

WESTFOR I think that’s an excellent idea

HOST: so councillo, why not maybe you can connect somehow at sometime and get that information is

Are there any other questions no thank you so much for coming in this morning and for the information we really do appreciate it thank you

WESTFOR Thank you very much for having us