Last Sunday, there was a screening of the documentary film BURNED: Are Trees the new Coal? at the United Church in Annapolis Royal.
The film was provided by the Ecology Action Centre. A full room watched the film. It was followed by a mediated discussion on the state of forestry in Nova Scotia.
The film showed the cutting of forests, primarily in the Southeast United States, their conversion into wood chips, and the shipping to European markets … BURNED.
‘The film tells the story of how woody biomass has become the fossil fuel industry’s renewable green saviour to climate change. Power plants in the UK and elsewhere have replaced coal with woody biomass. This allowed these countries, ostensibly, to meet their commitments to the Paris Accord on climate change.’
After the movie, Donna Crossland made a short presentation on the situation in Nova Scotia. This included the biomass plants in Pictou and Port Hawkesbury, the shipping of wood chips from Sheet Harbour. She also showed the extent of forest removal since 2000. This led to an audience discussion on the types of citizen action possible in Southwest Nova Scotia. When will the recommendations of the Lahey report be implemented ? What is the current level of cutting on crown land ? Randy Fredericks circulated a petition to save Hardwood Hill, a 30-40 hectare woodlot near Tupperville, Annapolis County (see Chronicle Herald p. A3, November 19,2018).
What can we do?
i) hold our elected representatives accountable?
ii) engage in citizen science?
iii) change the conversation away from resource economics? Treating the landscape as a commodity.
The next opportunity for accountability at the municipal level is November 28. Climate Change and the Human Prospect at Kings Theatre 7:30 pm. Both Warden, Timothy Habinski, and Councillor Gregory Heming will be available to answer questions.
According to the Department of Lands and Forestry, the online harvest plan map viewer lets the public know about potential future harvests on crown land, and people who sign up for direct notification will get an email each time a proposed harvest is posted (CH Nov 19 A3).
In BURNED, members of the Dogwood Alliance monitored the number of trucks, their load as they entered the biomass plants. The movement of wood products throughout Nova Scotia is a ‘geographic problem’. We know the sources. We know the possible destinations. Can we track the movements?
Before stands are harvested, we can use drones to fly over the stands. Can we conduct bio-blitz? That is an inventory of species. If the stands are harvested, we can monitor the quality of the work.
If Annapolis County is our main focus, we could request the engagement of faculty and students at the Centre of Geographic Sciences in this urgent ‘geographic problem’
From the documentary, the task is clearly beyond the local political arena. There are major vested business interests. We have to change the language: different voices, different skills, different values. Each of us, individually, and in community groups, must live and demonstrate the alternative. Can Annapolis County be the start of a movement for real change in Nova Scotia?
Looking for help and hope, I went to my bookshelves. I can recommend the writings of Stan Rowe and Doug Aberley in Canada, Mitchell Thomashow and Gary Snyder in the United States. They should be available through the wonderful services of inter-library loan, or from friends.
Edward Wedler for his remote technology expertise and contribution on graphics. Heather Stewart for her ecological insights and encouragement.
Stan Rowe. 1990. Home Place. Essays on Ecology. NeWest Press
Stan Rowe. 2006. Earth Alive. Essays on Ecology. NeWest Press.
Doug Aberley (ed) 1993. Boundaries of Home. New Society Publishers
Mitchell Thomashow 1996. Ecological Identity. Becoming a Reflective Environmentalist. MIT Press.
Gary Snyder.1990. The Practice of the Wild. North Point Press.
Paul Ebenkamp (ed). 2010 The Etiquette of Freedom. Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison. The Practice of the Wild. Counterpoint. Includes DVD.