Old-growth clearcutting in Guysborough

By Lois Ann Dort    

GUYSBOROUGH – The Municipality of the District of Guysborough is home to one of, if not the oldest, stand of old-growth forest in the province. In the Loon Lake area just outside the community of Guysborough stands a hardwood tree that is rumoured to be 600 years old, with a 18-foot circumference at its base.

In recent months this stand of trees, situated on Crown Land, has been slated for clearcut, resulting in a few tall hardwoods left towering over the bare landscape.

Scott Cook, a local businessman and woodlot owner, has been advocating against clearcuts in this area for years. He told The Journal on Tuesday that a harvest that leaves a few large trees standing will result in a barren landscape, as these trees cannot survive the assaults of sleet, wind and ice storms without a supporting forest.

Cook says his outreach to the Department of Natural Resources to stop the cutting have either gone unanswered or were not answered to his satisfaction in the past.

“What's wrong with it is we have lots of beautiful lakes on Crown Land and that could be made into cottage country,” said Cook. “Hardwood is usually a selective cut; take out 12 or 15 per cent on an acre and leave the rest.” But that is not what is happening here and Cook wants the government to put a stop to the clearcutting before all the old-growth forest is gone.

Cook lists local lakes that have been recently clearcut or are on the block to be cut: Eight-Mile Lake, Lawlor Lake, Rocky Lake, Middle Branch, Loon Lake — and he says something has to be done to stop it. He says with some hope, “I think there is some movement to find out why this is happening.” He's hoping this growing interest and the answers won't come too late.

The past two weeks have seen some movement to rally against clearcutting of old-growth forest on social media. The Healthy Forest Coalition and the Harbour Authority Initiative-Nova Scotia have both made posts on Facebook calling for action on the issue. Both posts use pictures of the giant hardwood in Loon Lake to illustrate the importance of the cause.

The Journal requested an interview or comment on the clearcutting issue from the Department of Natural Resources but had no response before going to press.