NEW GLASGOW — Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines hopes two ancillary industries can increase the forest economy — blueberries and maple syrup products.
Hines said discussions have taken place to open up Crown land in Nova Scotia to sap extraction from maple stands and to permit more wild blueberry harvest on lands already clear-cut.
“Between maple syrup and blueberries, it’s a crossover into agriculture,” he said. “We have to unlock that value.”
He said it’s important for Nova Scotia to get the most out of its Crown land because, next to P.E.I., the province has the lowest percentage of Crown forest in Canada.
Hines was speaking last week after a meeting with forestry stakeholders during a session that was hosted by the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce. It was among a series of meetings Hines is undertaking around the province.
He responded to concerns over the price of firewood and noted the way its price goes in the opposite direction to the price of crude oil. “There has always been a differential between the price of firewood and oil,” he said.
He said Northern Pulp is prospering despite a minority of its wood coming from Crown sources.
“Northern Pulp is getting 78 per cent of its harvest off private land,” he said.
Hines also noted the 4.5 million trees planted last year and the number planted in past years to indicate how the province is able to sustain the current level of tree cutting.
“It is definitely a renewable resource,” he said. “It’s a garden and like any garden you have to look after it. If we look at it that way we can become better stewards.”
Forest Nova Scotia figures show nine per cent of the wood harvesting in Nova Scotia is done in Pictou County. The industry includes forestry and logging, wood product manufacturing, pulp and paper and specialty products like Christmas trees and maple syrup.
Groupe Savoie Westville manager Andrew Watters was among those who attended the meeting.
“I think it was very informative,” he said. “I’d like to have more of these discussions.”
He said the Westville facility is doing well and more than 50 people are working there.
Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines, left, listens as Warden Robert Parker brings up forestry matters. (Goodwin photo)