Demonstrators removed from sit-in at Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry office in Halifax

Three Halifax Regional Police officers are seen removing a protestor on Nov. 24 after a sit-in was organized at the Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry office. Global News / Reynold Gregor

On Tuesday morning, several demonstrators  gathered at the Nova Scotia Lands and Forestry Department to call for a meeting regarding endangered moose habitat protection.

Shortly after, four protesters were removed from the Halifax office by police officers.

Eleanor Kure, who organized the sit-in, told Global News the province has “a systemic failure of upholding their duties to law and implementing sustainable environmental forestry practices.”

A Nova Scotia report released two years ago called for fundamental changes in how trees are harvested in Nova Scotia — including a reduction in clearcutting, a controversial practice that fells large stands of forest.

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The Lahey report said forest practices should be guided by a new paradigm called “ecological forestry” which treats forests “first and foremost” as ecosystems.

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Nova Scotia said in December 2018 that it will adopt sustainable forestry practices that will see reduced clearcutting on Crown land, but Kure said this has not been implemented.

Kure said the Tuesday sit-in was organized in solidarity with a group of Extinction Rebellion members currently blockading forest sections in Digby County to prevent clear-cutting.

A protestor calling for protection of moose habitat in Nova Scotia holds a poster at the N.S. Lands and Forestry Department office in Halifax, Nov. 24. Reynold Gregor / Global News

She said Extinction Rebellion sent a letter to Forestry Minister Derek Mombourquette on Nov. 11 outlining the dangers to habitats of endangered Mainland Moose in Nova Scotia.

The letter read:

“It is obvious from numerous conversations with hunters and others who stop by our camp that we are in historic moose habitat. You should know that the vast majority of our visitors say they are 100% supportive of our action.

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“When we show them the cuts your department approved for the area, they are horrified. These cut areas include exactly the multi-aged, multi-species forests that are needed by moose but are becoming ever less available under the current regime of destructive and outmoded industrial forestry.”

The group has not received a response from the minister, Kure said.

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At the department’s Hollis Street office, Kure and three others delivered another copy of that letter and demanded a meeting with Mombourquette.

Kure said the environmental group is calling for “an immediate moratorium on all proposed and current logging on Crown lands from Fourth Lake south to the Napier River in Digby County.”

The sit-in did not end well for the demonstrators as police were called to the scene around 10:30 a.m. for “unwanted persons at government office.”

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Brian Taylor with the N.S. Department of Lands and Forestry, said in an email:

“Earlier today, individuals entered an area that is currently restricted to the public due to COVID-19 measures in place. Staff onsite took their correspondence they were hand delivering and when they refused to leave, the proper authorities were notified.”

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Halifax Regional Police spokesperson John MacLeod said the provincial office said the demonstrators were interfering with operations.

Two demonstrators left, while two others refused to leave and had to be physically removed by police, MacLeod said.

Those two were taken in and ticketed under the Protection of Property Act with a fine of $227.41 each.

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