By moving away from clearcutting, Nova Scotia can have a forest industry that:

  • maintains the structural characteristics of the forest
  • preserves biodiversity
  • can co-exist with other forest uses like recreation
  • provides a stable local economy and long-term employment
Selection harvesting, or uneven-aged forest management, refers to the cutting of single trees or small groups of trees at a time. While more labour intensive than clearcutting, selection harvesting allows a landowner to harvest timber while maintaining or restoring the species, genetic, and structural diversity of a natural forest. Indicators of good selection harvesting include a closed forest canopy, a diversity of tree species and ages that mirrors natural conditions, and lots of dead wood on the forest floor and as standing "snags".

Some landowners use a method called "slow grading", wherein the slowest growing trees in a stand are targeted for harvesting while other trees are left to grow to their full potential. Some trees, like those that provide cavities for nesting birds or are of species that are under-represented in the stand, are left alone. In this manner wood cutting need not diminish the volume of standing timber over time, nor simplify the forest ecosystem.

From an economic perspective, good selection harvesting can be thought of as "harvesting the interest" - accruing a modest economic benefit from the forest on a regular basis (e.g., every year, every five years) forever. Clearcutting, by contrast, provides a windfall in Year One, followed by several decades with nothing to harvest. It is like liquidating the capital that is the forest. The proven long-term sustainability of selection harvesting makes it an attractive choice for wood-lot owners who want to retain the long-term value of their property.

To hear from landowners who have embraced selection harvesting and other low impact forestry methods in this region, check out the examples at www.lowimpactforestry.com. These case studies are from New Brunswick, but many of the forests there are similar to those found in Nova Scotia.

While some contractors limit the impacts of harvesting by using light machinery like tractors or small skidders, Nova Scotia also has several horse loggers. Click here for a horse logging directory for Nova Scotia and here for a list of Nagaya/FSC Certified Forest Products available in Nova Scotia.