Clearcutting refers to the complete felling and removal of a stand of trees. In Nova Scotia it is the predominant harvesting method. According to the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers clearcutting accounted for 536 of the 542 square kilometres of Nova Scotia forest logged in 1998.


Most people recognize that removing all the trees from a forest has a negative environmental impact on that ecosystem. The science backs this up.

An annotated bibliography of scientific papers on the effects of clearcutting is posted here.

Criticisms of clearcutting cited in these and other studies include:

• Soil desiccation (extreme drying)
• Erosion
• Loss/fragmentation of wildlife habitat
• Sedimentation of waterways
• "Hit and Run" overland water flow
• Adverse impacts on fish and many bird species
• Loss of carbon to the atmosphere
• Nutrient depletion
• Increased risk of insect infestation
• Poor regeneration


Public opinion in Nova Scotia is against clearcutting. This was clear in a recent public opinion survey completed by researchers at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (Sanderson, L., K. Beesley, and R. Colborne. 2000. Public Perceptions and Attitudes toward Sustainable Forest Management: Central Nova Scotia 2000. Rural Research Centre, Nova Scotia Agricultural College. Truro, NS.). The survey can be downloaded from the Nova Forest Alliance, which commissioned the survey.

Some excerpts follow:

On attitudes towards clearcutting:

Classification of attitude NFA
(rural)area (%)
Metro Halifax (%)
I am unfamiliar with clearcutting and do not have an opinion at this time. 12 22 14
There should be no restrictions placed upon clearcutting. 1 -- 1
Clearcutting should be allowed only where suitable for the area and tree species. 49 37 47
Clearcutting should not be allowed anywhere. 38 41 38
Total 100 100 100
table 45, p.39; n=597

On Clearcutting as a threat to the forest:

Respondents were asked if clearcutting presented a potential threat to the forest. 7% said "slight or no threat", 81% answered "moderate to great threat", and 12% said "don't know" (Table 49, p.43; n=615)

On government regulation:

The survey asked "Should the provincial government regulate clearcutting?" 84% said "yes", 7% said "no", and 9% said "don't know" (Table 48, p.41;n=611).

There are currently no regulations governing forestry practices in Nova Scotia.