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N.S. Supreme Court judge issues temporary injunction against N.S. forestry protest

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

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has issued a temporary injunction to end a blockade of logging roads in southwestern Nova Scotia.

The injunction issued Thursday by Justice Glen McDougall orders the group blocking the roads in Digby County to allow cutting contractors for the WestFor consortium to enter the area with their equipment.

Activists with the Extinction Rebellion group are blocking roads at the Rockypoint Lake site and the Napier Lake sites.

The injunction for the sites southeast of Weymouth says it remains in force until a hearing for a permanent injunction is heard on Jan. 26 and 27 in Halifax.

Protesters first set up camp on logging roads near the Caribou River on Oct. 21, saying they are attempting to protect the habitat of endangered mainland moose.

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

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The blockades are west of the Tobeatic Wilderness Area and not far from the Silver River Wilderness Area.

“We appreciate the concern and passion of the protestors in Digby; however, we continue to believe that a responsible forest industry can be balanced with the need to protect our natural environment, including endangered species such as the mainland moose,” Marcus Zwicker, WestFor’s general manager, said in a news release.

However, one organizer of the protest says she doesn’t intend to leave and is willing to be arrested for civil disobedience.

“A number of us are willing to do civil disobedience, to sit down and not leave and be arrested in protest against this,” Nina Newington said in a telephone interview Friday from one of the sites.

“We would mount a defence based on the government’s failure to stand up for its own rules protecting endangered species and to introduce forestry reform,” the 62-year-old protester said.

She estimated there are at least seven people at the two blockade camps, with ages ranging from 34 to 76 years old.

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s wildlife under threat of extinction'
B.C.’s wildlife under threat of extinction

Her group says that in recent weeks, WestFor has begun expanding and extending logging roads in the area in preparation for extensive cutting over 460 hectares.

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The group has said in earlier news releases that it is calling for an immediate moratorium on all proposed and current logging on a large section of Crown lands in Digby County. It called for a halt to logging until independent scientists carry out “ecologically based landscape use planning” for the area.

However, Zwicker said his company’s plans don’t run counter to protection of the endangered species. His release says harvests in the area follow the province’s special management practices for mainland moose.

“In fact, many scientific studies have shown that responsible forest management can help enhance moose habitat by providing requirements such as browse (food), shelter patches, wetland buffers and corridors,” he wrote.

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According to earlier WestFor affidavits submitted to the judge, forestry activity at the first blockade, the Rockypoint Lake site, has been stopped since Oct. 21 due to the protest.

The documents also say crews have continued to operate where the second blockade is set up by walking around protesters, but with vehicles unable access the site, timber can’t be removed.

The court order issued Thursday says if people violate the injunction they may be liable to proceedings for contempt of court.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2020.

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