Future still bright if saw logs vanish

Opinion

To the Editor:

Last week’s issue of The Advocate carried a short letter written by the executive director of the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners. In that letter it was stated that should Northern Pulp close the supply of saw logs would vanish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Harvesting logs in a sustainable manner will simply carry on. Logs will be sold directly to the sawmill offering the best price. No longer will sawmills that are out of favour with the Pulp Mill be shorted of logs.

Clear cutting that ruins way too many hectares will be severely reduced and replaced by sustainable harvesting, tree lot thinning and replanting a mix of tree species as may be suitable in an Acadian forest. Birds that eat harmful insects, such as the Spruce Bud worm, will be able to live on in a managed forest. No spraying required. Streams that now are muddied from harvesting when the forest ground is wet will, hopefully, gradually heal, allowing marine life to return.

Many of the small conifers now cut and delivered to the pulp mills will be left to grow another 60 years or more all the while absorbing many tonnes of carbon in the tree and its roots — about 33 per cent carbon in the tree and 66 per cent in the roots. Calling clear cutting Green is just false.

Sustainable harvesting is slower than machine harvesting and a bit more labour intensive, thus making jobs instead of making payments to a foreign supplier of high production machines. More forest thinning will need more people in the forests. Change equals jobs.

There is now a ready market for sawdust and shavings and that market is forecast to grow. True sawmill waste wood (chips and bark) will go to new efficient biomass furnaces like the one at Dalhousie’s Bible Hill campus. Imagine schools, hospitals and government buildings with biomass furnaces making electricity, space heating, and water heating. Most will also send surplus heat energy to an onsite storage or underground storage for later use. Sawmills themselves will install these Co-Gen plants to first make electricity, then dry sawn lumber and last, sell the surplus heat to close-by homes and commercial buildings.

Gone will be the pulp mill burning, or trying to burn, wet bark and chips as they have done for many years which pollutes the air downwind. Fuel chips should be less than 19 per cent water in order for efficient burning and must be under cover at all times.

Private forest lot owners and harvesters are presently planning how marketing will be ordered and logs and lumber sold and transported. There is no place for a pulp mill to control the harvest and selling saw logs from private forests. Government may try to carry on with old inefficient methods of harvest off Crown lands but private forest owners will show them a better way while making higher value products for local sale and export.

Finally, Pictou County residents will be free of pollution that affects the health of all, that reduces property values. Finally the town can add residents instead of lose them every year. New business will settle and employ new residents.

Ex pulp mill employees will find employment at Michelin Tire, Enercon and others. The NSCC can retrain those that want to learn for jobs in the Renewable Industry. If the pulp mill closes the site dismantling and cleanup will provide two to three person years of work for many. Perhaps Princess Auto will find a place for its new store and the jobs that come with it? The future is very positive.

Some worry or concern dates back to 2012 when the current pulp mill contract with Unifor was being settled. At that time there was a huge gap with funding for the pension plan. Has that been made current? Or will retired employees be shorted as were Sears employees? Government needs to address the shortfall now before it’s too late.

Don Wilson

Brule Point