By David Tinker
A week ago, as I was preparing to write a frothy, frivolous and flaky column, I received an email that changed the whole agenda. To say I was stunned, horrified, shaken to the core, would be understatements. The message was from Jamie Simpson, a forestry expert who works for the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), a respected environmental NGO. He had actually been invited to tour Northern Pulp's "sustainable" harvesting operation in Upper Musquodoboit, probably because EAC has been mildly critical of the biomass energy agenda. He was not prepared for what he saw and photographed. Nor was I. In my youth I was employed for many summers in the forestry sector. I have walked through clear cuts, and I have flown over them in a small plane. I have seen some awful forestry practices and some good ones. But never have I seen such a scene of total, awful devastation as in the Upper Musquodoboit site. Simpson remarked also that he had never as a professional forester seen such destruction. Not only the trees were removed, but even the forest floor. Nothing remained except a wasteland of mud.
To put it into perspective, imagine that the entire landscape between Bridgetown and Annapolis Royal between the North and South Mountains were to be stripped clear of everything, every tree, every house, literally every blade of grass. All around is a moonscape of yellow mud, scarred with craters filled with dirty water, and the tracks of bulldozer treads. On the horizon is a patch of twenty or thirty trees, say at the Hebb's Landing park on the Annapolis River. Everything else is gone. The only comparison would be to the shell-scarred landscape of Flanders during the Passchendaele battle. That, without any exaggeration on my part, is what you would find in Upper Musquodoboit - if you were allowed in at all, which is unlikely. And yet Northern Pulp, Nova Scotia Power and the Department of Environment are actually touting this as "sustainable harvesting of renewable resources", presumably because they have left a few dozen trees standing.
Coincidentally that morning, Dan Leger, the respected editor of the Chronicle Herald wrote a scathing critique of the whole Biomass Energy agenda. He is not a person who often weighs in on environmental issues. All the evidence available convinces him that harvesting forests to burn for energy is economically unsustainable under present conditions. But get this: the industry proposes to double the amount of wood removed! Folks, we have been sold a bill of goods by the energy industry, who have been handed Nova Scotia's forest resources on a plate as cheap raw material for electricity production. And they have the gall, the umitigated gall to tell us this is sustainable! Oh yes, it's a renewable resource alright, it's just that there is not the slightest intention of renewing it, based on the actual photographic evidence we have seen.
As Shakespeare put it' "Pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers". If you have any shred of concern for the future of our natural resources it's time to take action to stop this evil, stupid program. Let politicians know they will lose your vote forever if they continue to support this ghastly rape of Nova Scotia's forests.
DAVID TINKER writes a weekly opinion column for The Annapolis County Spectator.
Pardon Me, Thou Bleeding Piece of Earth
Commentary: More About This Later
By David Tinker
- Top of the page