Small woodlot owners must better organize if they want more clout in the forestry industry, according to the co-author of a new report that urges the province to find new markets and better track the inventory of trees in Nova Scotia forests.
Digby County forester Harold Alexander was part of a group that travelled to Finland last year to look at why forestry there is booming and learn what lessons could be used to improve the industry in Nova Scotia.
A final report on the trip was completed last month and highlights a variety of issues. It found two of the biggest differences between Finland and Nova Scotia are the amount of power small private woodlot owners have in the Scandinavian country and how intensely that country monitors its forests.
“In Finland they know very accurately how much wood the forest is growing on an annual basis,” said Alexander. “And if you’re going to sustainably harvest the forest, that’s very important information to know.”
The study comes as concerns have been rising about how much harvesting there’s been on Crown land by logging companies and the ability for small private woodlot owners to compete.
Nova Scotia hasn’t been able to tap into the plethora of markets where Finland and other countries are doing business. Alexander said that isn’t on account of ability, but rather a lack of dedicated efforts to develop those markets.
“The opportunity is there, it’s just — in my view — we’re not ready to take advantage of that,” he said.
Andy Kekacs, executive director of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association, has seen Alexander’s report. He said having quality inventory data available to everyone would mean people know the ages, sizes, quality, health and other factors about the species of trees in their respective jurisdictions.
“That means they can plan in a pretty precise way what specific crops will be available at specific points in the future.”
A need to organize
One of the major things holding back private owners in Nova Scotia is the lack of organization, said Alexander. The extensive organization efforts in Finland mean they can guarantee wood supply to the marketplace and are a major player in how things operate, he said.
There simply aren’t enough regional groups in Nova…