Nova Scotia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables, Tony Rushton, announced an updated old-growth forest policy for the province went into effect today (8-18-22). The updated policy applies to all old-growth forest on Crown land that is not already designated as part of a protected area.
The policy does not require protection of old-growth forests on private land, but the government will work with private landowners, land trusts, and others to support conservation.
For a forest to be considered old growth under the policy, at least 20% of the trees must be the minimum age for that forest type. The minimum age varies from 100 years old for some types of forest to 140 years old. The forest must also be relatively undisturbed by human activity.
There are also certain areas where the government has identified forests that are approaching the definition of old growth. They are called “restoration opportunity areas” and are also protected by the policy.
Commercial and industrial activities are not permitted in areas protected by the policy. Hiking, hunting, fishing, wilderness camping and harvesting plants for Indigenous cultural uses are permitted. The policy also includes a commitment to support education about old-growth forests.
The policy, however, also says that under rare and exceptional circumstances, an old-growth forest area can be removed from protection or certain activities permitted if it is in the public’s interest. For example, land may be needed for the construction of a new hospital or trees that fell in a storm may be a fire risk to neighboring communities. Before the government would decide on changing protection, the policy requires a 30-day public comment period and consultation with the Mi’kmaq First Nation.
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All Old-Growth Forest Protected