Forestry Consultancies & Employment
Tree marking is the careful selection and marking of trees for harvest or for retention, and is a key step towards growing high quality logs in a partial harvesting scenario.
In 2009, Minga completed a forest technician program in central Ontario that focused on selection management and the techniques and science to produce quality hardwoods and softwoods. During the year she did the course work and wrote provincial exams required for the tree marking certification. She went on to Haliburton, Ontario, and marked trees throughout the winter, passing the provincial government audit in 2010. Minga is the only certified tree marker in Nova Scotia.
The certification confirms an understanding of how to manage shade tolerant forests in an economically and ecologically sustainable manner. This involves moving stands towards an ideal basal area distribution by size class, spacing tree crowns, assessing tree vigour, identifying and ranking severity of defects, knowing the silvics of each tree species, identifying and ranking important wildlife trees, and maintaining critical wildlife habitat (like vernal pools, stick nests and mast trees).
Minga has marked woodlots on mainland NS, as well as Cape Breton, and has taught the basics of tree marking to woodlot owners throughout Nova Scotia, to NSCC students in Port Hawkesbury, as well as to contractors with the Cape Breton Privateland Partnership.
Survey and review of forestry legislation in North America pertinent to woodlot owners
A contract was taken with the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association to encourage private woodlot owners in Nova Scotia to improve management practices. The report documented and assessed approaches to private woodlot management in other North American jurisdictions. It reviewed legislation, regulations, policies and programs from a variety of states, provinces and municipalities. Only those with the potential for positive impacts on forest health and on the economic situation of landowners, small contractors and rural communities in NS were emphasized in this report.
Uneven-aged Management Outreach Program
This was a contract to deliver a program funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources to promote uneven-aged management among woodlot owners in Nova Scotia. Educational materials were prepared, and presentations and workshops delivered to woodlot owners. Visits were made to individual woodlots, promoting quality improvement techniques and teaching the basics of treemarking.
This program was a direct consequence of work carried out at Ecology Action Centre to increase uptake of uneven-aged management treatments under the Forest Sustainability Regulations.
Forest Management Plans
Forest management plans have been prepared for woodlot owners across the province. This has involved:
- Field work and data collection;
- Summarizing and presenting data in tables and GIS-generated maps
- Characterizing stands and wildlife habitat values and features
- Identifying conservation concerns; and,
- Devising prescriptions and priorities.
Plans have emphasized forest restoration, conservation of biodiversity, maintenance and restoration of wildlife habitat, and recreational enjoyment of the woodlot. Read a plan here, along with associated maps 1, 2 & 3.
Ecology Action Centre
At Ecology Action Centre (Nova Scotia’s most influential, science-based environmental organization), Minga led the forestry program aimed at improving forestry practices in Nova Scotia. Successes included:
- Securing a promise from the NS government to carry out an inclusive, fair and transparent public consultation process towards developing a new forest strategy;
- A province-wide uneven-aged management outreach, education and funding program for woodlot owners;
- The first international Acadian forest science conference;
- A scientific review of the Department of Natural Resource’s 2007 Forest Disturbance Report;
- Extensive input and influence into the Forest Stewardship Council assessment of StoraEnso, previous owners of the pulp and paper company in Point Hawkesbury with the license to all crown land in the eastern region of the province; and,
- The creation of a province-wide email outreach list.
The job involved:
- Field work;
- Presentations in different venues;
- Policy analysis and strategy development;
- Advocacy, report and proposal writing;
- Updates to funders; and,
- Frequent work with the media and close working ties with woodlot owners, politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, Forest Stewardship Council auditors, forestry companies, environmental organizations and many others.
Key projects of the forestry program:
1. Changes to the technical criteria and funding structure of the Nova Scotia Forest Sustainability Regulations
In collaboration with woodlot owners and the hardwood sawmill sector, we organized and hosted a workshop on March 10, 2005 to examine the capacity of the provincial Forest Sustainability Regulations to support uneven-aged forestry practices.
We produced an in-depth report on the Forest Sustainability Regulations and their effects on uneven-aged forestry practices. The subject received considerable media attention, including a 2-part CBC radio documentary that was aired several times (listen to Part 1 here and Part 2 here).
We were invited to present our results to the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Resources.
Most of the recommendations in our report were adopted, including:
- Technical changes to the Forest Sustainability Regulations to allow for more uneven-aged management;
- A dedicated fund for uneven-aged treatments; and
- An outreach and education program
We received a request from the Nova Scotia Minister of Natural Resources (NSDNR) to submit a conceptual proposal for the delivery of an uneven-aged management funding program. Our proposal was accepted by NSDNR and in the first year alone, the government set aside $570,000 for this program.
2. Acadian forest science conference
We initiated and co-organized the first Acadian Forest Science conference, assembling a steering committee, raising funds, and playing a critical role in leading and supporting the organization of the 3 day event (October 10-13, 2007) in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The success of this conference required collaboration with academics, government and multi-stakeholder organizations, industry, and other conservation organizations.
3. Involvement with the Forest Stewardship Council assessment of StoraEnso, Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia
- Three field trips with StoraEnso staff, 2 to numerous sites of their choice and one to sites we selected to profile problem areas
- After each field trip, comments and concerns were shared with StoraEnso and the SmartWood audit team
- Preparation of a thorough review and analysis of StoraEnso’s management plan and field operations, submitted to StoraEnso and SmartWood, and made publicly available. Read it here.
- Input into the makeup of the SmartWood audit team and peer reviewers and recommended site visits for auditors
- Preparing a joint memo co-signed by Ecology Action Centre and StoraEnso which was then submitted to SmartWood
- A review of StoraEnso’s High Conservation Value Forest report
Preparation of a number of successful fundraising proposals, including 2 to the Ivey Foundation (for a total of $330,000), another to the EJLB Foundation ($50,000), as well as successful applications for $5,000 – $10,000 from the Marguerite Hubbard Charitable Foundation, Sage Foundation, MEC, Nova Forest Alliance and others.
Nova Scotia Genuine Progress Index (GPI) Forest Accounts, Volumes 1 and 2
Minga researched and co-wrote the 463-page, 2-volume Genuine Progress Index Forest Accounts (read part 1 and part 2). The goal was to provide a full economic valuation of Nova Scotia’s forests. This approach differs from conventional economics which uses tools like GDP to count the depletion of natural resources as economic gain. GPI accounts for the depreciation in the value of the natural capital asset and such things as the loss of biodiversity, soil organic matter and soil fertility, soil erosion, sedimentation of streams and degradation of aquatic habitats, and loss of recreational opportunities.
We researched and profiled case studies of forestry operations that provide viable examples of efforts to maintain and restore forest natural capital. Each case study reflects differences in ownership, land-use history, geography, and management philosophy. In each example, the forest managers adopted a long-term vision that considered all the values of the forest and all the costs of forestry practices.
Algonquin Park (AP) in Ontario – considered as an area of Crown land – provides an excellent model for Crown land management in Nova Scotia (Volume 2, pp.130-168). Ninety eight percent of all forestry in AP is by selection and shelterwood harvesting. Great attention is paid to ensure recreational uses and enjoyment is not negatively impacted by forestry operations. The proportion of shade-tolerant hardwoods and softwoods in the park has been maintained over the past 30 years, as has their health and the older age classes. Close to 40% of AP is protected and unavailable for forestry.
Forest Stewardship Council audits of Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve and Pictou Landing
Minga worked for the SmartWood program of the Rainforest Alliance – one of then 5 Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited certifiers in the world. FSC certification is a means of recognising the accomplishments of forestry operations that have met a regionally developed set of FSC forestry standards. FSC principles and criteria require evaluating the ecological, economic and social sustainability of a forestry operation.
In 1997, Minga participated on the assessment team for the first successful Forest Stewardship Council certified forest operation in Canada – Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve (in central Ontario). Her tasks included:
- a review of HF&WR documents and management plans, and interviews with HF&WR staff;
- assembling the audit team;
- coordinating, corresponding, and negotiating with the owner of HF&WR;
- carrying out a 4-day field assessment;
- participating in the group analysis and team discussion during and immediately following field work;
- preparing the draft report, which entailed compiling auditors’ reports; writing the public summary, background and social sections; circulation of the draft report to peer reviewers; producing a final report based on peer review comments; and
- tracking costs of the assessment.
In 1998, Minga visited Pictou Landing First Nation (PLFN) to carry out a preliminary review of their forest management practices (called ‘a scoping’). Weaknesses and strengths were identified, as well as improvements needed to achieve FSC certification. A ‘scoping report’ was prepared and submitted to SmartWood and to PLFN, paving the way for a full assessment in 1999.
In 1999, Minga led the 3-person certification assessment team of PLFN in Nova Scotia. Bob Bancroft and King Wright were the other two auditors. PLFN’s pursuit of FSC certification was initiated by Bill McKay, a forester with the First Nations Forestry Association in Nova Scotia. Pictou Landing became the first FSC certified operation in Nova Scotia.
The assessment process was very similar to that for Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve. The full 56 page report is confidential, however the first 3 sections are public information, available here.
Permanent Sample Plot Measurements and Analysis
Re-sampled 11 permanent sample plots (PSPs) for Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, a privately-owned, Forest Stewardship Council-certified forest operation in Ontario. Brought the entire network of 22 PSPs up-to-date with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources protocol, fixing numerous problems with sampling procedures, data entry and data analysis. Findings were analysed, presented and discussed in a 144-page report.