Environmentalists, Forestry Industry Agree Biodiversity Bill Needs Changes

Environmentalists, woodlot owners and forestry company representatives were united in calling for changes to the measures being proposed by the McNeil government to protect Nova Scotia’s biodiversity, but Bill 116 is headed back to the floor of the legislature without amendment.

That’s because Liberal members on the law amendments committee used their majority to defeat a motion by Progressive Conservative MLA Tory Rushton to send the Biodiversity Act back to the Department of Lands and Forestry to mull over what it was told Monday afternoon.

In all, eight individuals spoke out in favour of the bill in principle, but all had suggestions to make provisions either stronger or more clear.

Debbie Reeves, who called herself a sixth generation woodlot owner in Lunenburg and Kings counties, told the committee she was worried the proposed law gave Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin too much power.

“This act is overreaching and everything is biodiversity,” Reeves said.

“This could result in unintended consequences, such as even stopping us from cutting dying fir trees as it could provide habitat for some types of bugs, or stop Christmas tree growers from planting genetic modified seedlings.”

That sentiment was echoed by Andrew Fedora, who spoke on behalf of Forest Nova Scotia, the main forestry industry lobby group in the province.