A marcher playing the trombone blasting Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 (a.k.a. the Funeral March) led a procession of hundreds of people on downtown Halifax streets on Thursday as part of a protest called the Forest Funeral.
Police escorted so-called mourners holding placards and other props behind several pallbearers carrying a coffin filled with branches.
“Today, we are gathering to mourn the loss of biodiversity, healthy Acadian forests, and the wildlife that were lost in the process of clear-cut harvests and just general unsustainable forestry practices,” Mike Lancaster, a member of the Healthy Forest Coalition, said shortly before the protest started at Grand Parade.
Lancaster said that there are a number of issues regarding clear-cutting and its negative impacts on wildlife and other industries, and the key is to find a “sustainable” solution.
Lisa Roberts, NDP MLA for Halifax Needham, attended the protest. She said she has heard concerns from people in Nova Scotia, including in Annapolis County.
“People see that there are clear-cuts happening on Crown land with very little economic spin-off for the local community that causes consternation, upset, loss of wildlife habitat,” she said.
Nova Scotia’s Liberal government previously scrapped a goal to reduce clear-cutting.
“We’ve been hearing, as a government, that people haven’t been happy with the forestry practices that have been going on in western Nova Scotia,” Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller said.
A review of those practices is supposed to come out at the end of February; no policy changes are expected before then, she added.
“Every single woodlot that’s evaluated, it’s all based on science and evidence, so to give it an arbitrary number of where we need to be, it’s all based on many factors and not just an arbitrary number,” Miller said.
Roberts said there are numerous scientific approaches that can be considered.
“Right now, we seem to be walking away from some of the progress and some of the commitments that were made,” she said.
Miller said she’s open to having a talk with the organizers of the protest.