Unadvertised Consequences

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  • Site degradation resulting from clear-cutting is a popular misconception promoted by those opposed to clear-cutting. The general consensus is, except for the poorest of sites, that productivity. at rotation age, is unaffected by traditional clear-cuts (tops and branches left on site and the leaving of appropriate stream side buffer zones). There is no question that immediately after clear-cutting nutrient loss is accelerated, but returns to normal after a few years due to rapid re-vegetation of the harvested site. In my 30 yrs, as a research forester, I did not come across evidence to support this degradation theory. On the other hand, the growth of stands originating from intense wildfires were often below their potential. Such fires eliminate the surface layer of organic matter, greatly reducing the sites nitrogen and base metal reserves. This is significant because much, some say most, of the Province’s forests were burned over at some point in the past, which means that the productivity of these fire origin sites is increasing as nutrient reserves slowly recover.

    Clear-cutting can actually increase wood production by 15 -30 %, by allowing the planting of genetically improved stock and/or planting species better matched to the physical and chemical properties of the site.

    Clear-cutting also increases soil temperature which in turn increases (i) the rate of chemical and physical weathering and (ii) the number of days of soil temperatures above 42 degrees F, both of which result in increased forest growth.

    But most importantly, clear cutting can almost triple forest productivity as pointed out in my recent Counterpoint article published in the CH. “As evidence let’s go back in time some 50 years ago, when our forests were primarily selectively harvested. After decades of this method of harvesting, the softwood forest was yielding only 30 per cent of its potential — i.e., where there should have been three trees, there was only one. Quality was also degraded as a result of loggers selecting the best and leaving the worst.
    Clear-cutting proved to be the solution to these problems. Why? Because our climate, with high humidity and frequent rainfall, is ideally suited to the establishment of natural regeneration. In fact, 84 per cent of clear-cut areas naturally regenerate to commercial tree species, which means that simply changing the harvesting method from selective to clear-cutting almost triples forest production.” In comparison, fertilizing forests, increases production by only 20 to 30% over a 5 to 10 year period, is expensive compared to other methods of increasing production, and therefore is not likely to be applied broadly.
    Lastly, it is worth noting that the fastest rate of carbon capture occurs when newly established stands reach the age of 20 to 30. At this point in time, the annual growth rate, expressed in terms of cubic feet per acre per year, is greater than at any other time in the stands life.

    Ed Bailey | November 17, 2014 | Reply

  • barrie, I guess in this, as with so many other instances, the devil is in the details and maybe we just have to agree to disagree in this case.I do know that I was quite tuned in when this whole matter was unfolding and I was uneasy with it then and nothing since has changed my mind. .. I’m a free enterpriser in mind and action but I do believe that there are exceptions that can be made where vital public interests (necessities) are at play i.e. Defense, Health Care and in this instance Provision of Electric Power..Granted, not all governments handlle these vital aspects too well, but that is one of the things that ballot boxes are for..

    bob mackenzie | November 16, 2014 | Reply

  • Bob, I am not familar with the terms of the IPO that would have been issued when the NS government offered the shares in NSP to the public.
    You refer to a commited rate. I am going to assume the committed rate is the guaranteed rate of return that potential investors were told would be used in the power rate setting process. I would suggest that there is a direct relationship between that guaranteed rate of return and the share price at the time of the transaction. The higher the return the higher the share price. If, as you seam to be suggesting, that guaranteed return was set too high, then the taxpayers were rewarded with higher procedes from the disposition. The taxpayers won! Like it ot not, that is very defensible. And I would suggest it is explanable.
    More defensible and explanable than the approach being taken today with regards to the issues identified by Bill, in his article.

    Barry H | November 16, 2014 | Reply

  • bill f.; comparing NSPC to NLC & ALC does not really seem especially valid because the former is , in any reasonable situation, a Necessity whereas the other 2 are entirely matters of personal choice, in other words ‘ take ’em or leave ’em! …

    bob mackenzie | November 16, 2014 | Reply

  • Barry, we are talking about the committed rate /terms to initial investors at the time of privatizion as compared to those otherwise prevailing over the period of time involved..

    bob mackenzie | November 16, 2014 | Reply

  • The sale of NSP was the lesser of 2 evils.We could either have left it in government control and suffered the inadequacies of bureaucratic inefficiencies (ie. NSLC or Atlantic Lotto) or sold it (as we did) to private enterprise..
    Either way the users and/or taxpayers would be the losers because the government (any party) does not have the experience, expertise or dedication to negotiate with private entrepreneurship. They are more concerned with the optics of the deal than the bottom line.
    To those who continue to bemoan the sale I suggest you “get over it” It is irreversible and at least many of our (underfunded) pension plans can take comfort in the fact that it is one of the top dividend producers–convoluted socialism.
    With respect to the excess fuel costs it is a case of pay me now or pay me later –because NSP cannot and will not be denied their legislated return.

    Bill F | November 15, 2014 | Reply

  • Bill, it isn’t always what is done but how it is done that makes the diff. The terms of sell-off in the case of of OUR electric power supply really cannot be defended . That dug a very deep hole that we cannot reasonably hope to escape from. under any reasonable circumstances…When you are paying money cost rates that are double digit above market you have a problem that was self-inflicted .The injury is further insulted when you are silent as regards any REASONABLE explaination.

    bob mackenzie | November 14, 2014 | Reply

    • Bob, l am struggling to understand your second post. Can you elaborate on the “terms of sell off” that cannot be defended. Likewise the phrase “money cost rates that are double digit above market” is terminology that is confusing me. If you are making some reference ro NSP cost of capital why is that a problem that was self inflicted. Thank you

      Barry H | November 15, 2014 | Reply

  • Electricity for Nova Scotians is an on-going mess and it is NOT to be changing in the forseeable future..This situation (problem) had its origins with the DONALD CAMERON government selling off the utility for small change in order that so-called Investors could reap very large GUARANTEED returns…Thus the trap was set and the citizens of this province have been caught in it ever since and sadly, they arent going to escape it anytime soon and NEVER at a price that they can afford.

    bob mackenzie | November 14, 2014 | Reply

    • Bob thanks for your comment. Having a provincially owned power utility has not been a treat for New Brunswick.

      Bill | November 14, 2014 | Reply

  • we need an independent third party prepare an analysis of where we get our current supply of electricity ,what we will need for the next 50 years and where we will get that , and all of these costed .
    NSP is never going to tell us the truth and the government doesn’t seem to capable of doing either .

    peter S | November 14, 2014 | Reply

  • Bill, another very informative document. Unfortunately I may have to stop reading them. It is too distressing to see our provincial financial plight being compounded by stupidity. We get what we elect, and we elected a bunch of unqualified individuals who have no idea how to manage and act in the best interests of the province.
    The liberals are in over their heads. Several Ministers are not gualified to lead these critical portfolios. $15m for teachers pensions, $30 m for a cruise ship, $24m for NSP interest. Where does it end?
    The Finance Minister said months ago when bringing forward the current budget that Nova Scotians had some tough decisions to make. These are not tough decisions, they are common sense things, but unfortunately we were not asked. That is why the government must try to misstate the facts and hope they can fool us. Minister Younger indicates customers need a break. Taxpayers need a break from lies and incompetence. Regardless of who we elect we appear that will not happen. We are doomed!!!
    Thanks for your efforts Bill.

    Barry H | November 14, 2014 | Reply