#SaveTheMainlandMoose - February 2022 On-Location Reports
South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Day 89 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 28, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

As snowstorms go, Friday's was a gift: no wind and light, sparkly snow. But you do still have to put the snow somewhere. Turns out the pile of frozen snow that has built up across the logging road just beyond camp is quite an obstacle to anyone wanting to drive on up the unplowed road to Roxbury. Sorry guys! We're hoping it will melt one of these days . . .

We did get plowed out in time for some delightful visits. Neighbour Brian (as close to a neighbour as you get 4km up a logging road) came up from Trout Lake Road to see what we were up to, then Jenn and Natalie arrived from Halifax, laden with goodies.

We sat around the stove and talked about many of the issues touched on by Linda Pannozzo in her post, "When Trees Have Standing," on her terrific new blog, The Quaking Swamp. Real conversations with actual people, all in the same tent drinking tea. The simple pleasures are sufficient.

Solving biodiversity loss - which is highly connected to habitat loss, a result of human activity - may be an even tougher problem to solve than climate change. We have to be careful that in trying to solve climate change, through what's called "green growth," doesn't end up putting more pressure on the planet and creating more environmental damage as a result of mining and all the extractive activities related to shifting the global energy systems away from fossil fuels.

Shifting to renewables will also have to be accompanied by a reduction in our energy demands.

Anders Hayden is someone who has his finger on the pulse of the growing debate about economic growth, green or otherwise, and the alternatives. Hayden is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Dalhousie University and the author of the 2014 book, When Green Growth is Not Enough: Climate Change, Ecological Modernization, and Sufficiency, which compared Canada''s and Britain's actions on climate change, focusing on three competing approaches to the problem: business as usual, ecological modernization, and sufficiency. On the first page of his book, Hayden raises the "inconvenient issue" of whether the continued prioritization of economic growth is even compatible with the deep emissions cuts that climate science suggests are urgently necessary. It's a subject Linda Pannozzo explored in some detail in a 4-part "Climate Emergency" series in the Halifax Examiner.

"Capitalism is built on endless cycles of profit-making and capital accumulation," but this notion of unlimited growth, in which capitalism is firmly rooted, is a "fantasy," says Hayden.

And there you have it. Do read Linda's whole post. It is thought provoking and scary but it also points in a helpful direction. Check out her website: lindapannozzo.substack.com

Snow at Last Hope Camp 4 women have tea in a tent

Day 84 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 23, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Brad Redden and friends at Last Hope Camp Save Our Forest

People who care about all our relations, our human and non-human kin. People who care about the Treaties of Peace and Friendship. People who care about having a livable planet for future generations. People who care about this particular place, the forests and wetlands and wild lands around Beal's Brook. People who care enough about all of these things to camp out for 84 days through a wild winter. And so many other people whose actions speak of their care, from making phone calls to sort out practical problems, to sending gifts of fire cider and cherry rose shrub and seasoned firewood, to providing a place to drop off and pick up stuff.

At the Last Hope Camp we are rich in care. Sometimes care comes hiking up the road with a baby on his back. That was yesterday. Annapolis County councillor Brad Redden came to visit with his son. Brad ran for this district of the municipal council. He's smart and interested and easy to talk to. With a background in geology, he's ready to delve into the complexities of the soil science behind the fact that large areas of clearcut forests on this part of the South Mountain are not regrowing.

These are forests that could be storing carbon and sheltering wildlife while also sopping up heavy rains like the ones we've had in the last week. But they aren't.

Clearcuts don't do the many jobs that standing forests do. Those jobs are called 'ecosystem services.' Also called our life support systems. They include a whole lot of water management such as filtering water and reducing erosion. Those jobs have been ignored by governments for generations, because nobody has to pay for them. Only jobs that show up in that unholy measure of prosperity, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), count.

So many kinds of care don't count because they are unpaid. The care the Earth takes of us. The care women have traditionally provided for the young and old. The care Indigenous peoples have taken of land and water. The care so many Nova Scotians take of their neighbours. Some refer to these kinds of care as 'natural capital' and 'social capital.'

It's tricky, finding ways to say these unpaid things count without demeaning them. Because a part of their true value is that these kinds of care are given and received as gifts. They are devalued when turned into something like the paid transactions that count towards GDP.

When you've bought and paid for something, you are done. You walk away, not owing the other party anything. But when someone gives you something, even though the gift is freely given, you are now connected to that person and you are aware of the gift. You feel the obligation to give in turn. Perhaps not now, quite likely not to that person, but somewhere, sometime. Gifts confer obligations and create relationships.

Woman preps meal on woodstove

So here we are, at a point when an economic and social system that treats the Earth as a resource to be exploited has done so much damage that life support systems around the globe are collapsing. Forests, for example, ruthlessly mown down after decades of other abuse, are not regrowing. Climate change is making extreme weather more and more common.

How do we respond?

With gratitude and deeper understanding for all we have been given by the Earth? For the true riches the guardians of Mi'kma'ki shared with settlers under conditions of peace and friendship? Do we respond with willingness to undo as much of the damage our system has done as possible? Do we care more, help each other more, protect what we can of the natural world?

Some do. Many do. But it is hard to escape the feeling that the government, specifically Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, only cares about the jobs that count toward GDP. The forestry industry and the millions of tonnes of 'fibre' they take from our forests count. The needs of wildlife, of all the life forms an old forest supports, those merit - if they are endangered enough - 'special management plans.' These, like the 100 metre buffers around rare lichens or the provision of a few 'moose clumps' in a giant clearcut, reveal a commitment to doing the barest minimum. As if they could care less.

Still, we must save what we can. That is our obligation, all of us who breath in the oxygen the trees breath out. And the young man walking up the road with his baby on his back, coming to see what the camp is all about, he is an image of hope. He ran for public office because he cares. He carries the future on his back.

Day 80 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 19, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Visitors at Last Hope Camp

The warmth and rain turned the road to soup so our intrepid visitors from Quebec, Aidan and Loic, hiked out to their car in the morning. After a night of howling wind and rain and faced with more of the same, they were smiling and cheerful. The ability to take pleasure in life as it is may be a necessity for people willing to face the full catastrophe of the climate and nature emergencies.

It certainly seems to be a common trait in people who come and camp here. There is joy and relief in taking action in the company of like-minded, like-hearted others. Bon voyage, nos amis.

Day 79 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 18, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Visitors at Last Hope Camp Save Our Forest

Another wild storm, warm and windy this time. These temperature swings have to be hard on the plants and animals. From minus 10 to plus 12 and now heading back down to minus 9 overnight. Maritime weather has always been changeable but this increasing severity and instability is most likely human-caused. It is our job now to change course.

In the afternoon a herd of deer - two adult does and five youngsters - came over the bridge then headed off into the remnant of old forest left along Beal's Brook. They need mature evergreens for shelter and there are precious few left around here. There's no doubt in anybody's mind that the few stands of older spruce in the Last Hope forest would be top of the list for cutting.

How dare the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables take so little care of wildlife? In theory wildlife protection is under their jurisdiction. They have done such a lousy job that citizens have to step up, to become a voice for the animals, the trees, the lichen. So little is left for wildlife. We must save what we can, for them and for us. This earth is not ours to lay waste.

The company of like-minded people makes this struggle a joyful one. The last couple of days two wonderful visitors from Quebec, Aiden and Loic, found their way to us. Not only were they great company, they were also really good cooks. Entirely up for the challenges of camp cooking. Once frozen eggs, for example. Nova Scotch egg, deep fried raw in a crust of rolled oats, almost made it onto the menu.

Many thanks again to all who helped restock the wood-shack with firewood - Roger, Larry, Corey and more.

Forest Protecting in Nova Scotia Save Our Forest

Day 78 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 17, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

The Last Hope Moose Camp
Protecting endangered spaces and species, one forest at a time
by Linda Pannozzo
The Quaking Swamp Journal

Mainland Moose Caught by trail cam

Moose caught by a trail cam in the Beals Brook area, fall of 2020.
Photo courtesy: Daniel Baker.

Nina Newington: "From the quote at the start, this article is both informative and wise. Few people have the depth of knowledge Linda Pannozzo has acquired from years spent investigating Nova Scotia's forestry industry and its shadowy relationships with successive governments"

From Pannozzo's article:

"If there is any hope for the world at all, it lives low down on the ground, with its arms around the people who go to battle every day to protect their forests, their mountains and their rivers because they know that the forests, the mountains and the rivers protect them." -Arundhati Roy (from The Trickledown Revolution):

. . . as early as 1912 when the Dean of Forestry at the University of Toronto reported they were "being annually further deteriorated by abuse and injudicious use," B.E. Fernow warned - more than a century ago - that the forests were "liable to exhaustion," and called on those who had the "the continued prosperity of the province at heart" to "arrest further deterioration and to begin restoration.

But forest "exhaustion" was never much of a concern for the pulp industry. It can profit quite handsomely from the low-grade wood that comes from a forest in decline.

. . . Sandra Phinney is a freelance writer and photographer. She's also a "forest protector" and has spent some time at the Camp and plans to go back. When asked what motivates her to want to be part of the protest, she replies with one word, "anger."

"Anger that our government has not taken its responsibility to care for our Species at Risk. Anger that it's allowed the degradation of our forests which, in turn, is contributing to climate change. Anger that DNRR has become a department that kowtows to the forestry industry and is focused more on harvesting than conservation. For me, being part of trying to save our forests from clearcutting is a way that I can channel my anger and not get bitter. Mind you at age 77, sleeping in a tent in sub-zero weather is not my idea of fun. But, it's something I can do."

Day 77 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 16, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Filming Last Hope Camp Filming Last Hope Camp Filming Last Hope Camp

On Sunday, campers Beth, Bernadette, Joan and Jane welcomed Chris, Kate and Juno. Chris is the lichenologist the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables (through the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute) contracted to survey this forest after the discovery of three different kinds of rare lichens here. In a single afternoon, with 60cm of snow on the ground, Chris found three more specimens of each of those rare lichens in different parts of the forest than the original discoveries.

The three species - Frosted Glass-whiskers lichen; Black-foam lichen and Wrinkled Shingle lichen - are all listed as Species At Risk by the federal government. To give you an idea of quite what a find these are, this is from Environment Canada's Management Plan for the Frosted Glass-whiskers, Nova Scotia Population 2011:

"Frosted Glass-whiskers is a tiny, cryptic, stubble lichen. Identification, even by experts, requires microscopic examination. It is very rare over much of its global range. In Canada, Frosted Glass-whiskers is known from one occurrence in British Columbia, and two occurrences on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. This management plan deals with only the Nova Scotia population.

"Frosted Glass-whiskers is an indicator of old-growth forest habitats, where it occurs on the exposed heartwood of mature trees. It may also be sensitive to air pollution, acid rain and acid fog. Combined with its presumed dependence on specific microhabitat conditions, this makes Frosted Glass-whiskers a sensitive bioindicator of old-growth ecosystem health."

How is it that this forest was approved for harvesting by the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables? Local citizens protested the cut as soon as they learned about it, knowing how important this forest is to wildlife. They were told by DNRR that the department's biologists had reviewed the forest not once but twice and had no concerns about going in and cutting it. Besides, citizens were told, it was too late to stop the cut.

If a determined group of forest protectors had not set up camp and stayed put through storm after storm, this forest would already have been cut. The healthy old forest ecosystem these lichens depend on for their existence would have already been devastated. Even though this forest was not slated for clearcutting, the proposed shelterwood cut and the attendant extraction roads that would have been driven through this remnant of intact forest would have disrupted the sheltered, humid conditions required by these lichens.

So what happens now? Ideally, DNRR would admit that if this many rare lichen were found in short order under adverse conditions, it is highly likely there are more to be found. It would admit that it made a mistake by approving any harvest for this 24 hectare forest. Instead the forest would be added to the protected area of "crown" land, preserving this habitat not only for the lichens but also for the endangered mainland moose and wood turtle as well as for all the other vital elements of the old, complex web of life that has evolved in this place.

A spokesperson for the Natural Resources Department told CBC's Michael Gorman that buffer zones will be applied to any area where rare lichens are confirmed, in keeping with management practices, before the temporary hold on the harvest approval is lifted. No mention of waiting until a proper survey can be done when the bottom two feet of the trees are visible. That, after all, might establish the presence of yet more of those pesky rare lichens.

Here's what the federal Management Plan for the Frosted glass-whiskers lichen says about those buffers: "The 100 m buffer is provided as a preliminary guideline only - further research is necessary to determine how large the buffer should be to preserve the host tree and associated habitat; at a minimum, monitoring protocols will need to assess whether any process or activity outside the buffer zone is having a negative influence within the buffer area."

In the case of another rare lichen, the Boreal Blue Felt lichen, the buffer zone was increased to 500m after monitoring revealed the lichen were dying when the buffer was only 100m.

Does DNRR actually care about protecting Species at Risk, whether lichens or mainland moose or wood turtle, or do they want to do the barest minimum? Doing the minimum required by law or, often, less than that, has been business as usual for decades. But citizens are saying no. Enough is enough. We need a livable planet and that means protecting and restoring nature. Starting here, starting now.

Day 74 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 13, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Forest & Water Defenders Filming Last Hope Camp
Filming Last Hope Camp

With the last pieces of floor down in the new prospectors tent, it was time for some tent-keeping. We moved all the can't-freeze and cooking stuff to the new prospectors, and all the can-freeze but needs to stay dry, to the old prospectors. It is a great improvement, especially with the new stove. Everyone loves that stove. It is wonderful to cook on.

Then Beth and Bernadette tackled dubious tubs of leftovers that had thawed. (Our "deep freeze" went on the blink - not that we are complaining.) Some chickens will be happy. To cap off a companionable day, we ate Newfoundland fish cakes and salad sitting around a table. Wow!

Day 72 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 11, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Forest & Water Defenders Filming Last Hope Camp

Despite various challenges with the road in to camp - snow, ice, slush, rain, repeat - we have had some exciting visitors. Three of them you will have to visualize for yourselves. As their vehicle disappeared around the corner beyond the bridge we looked at each other and went, "photographs!" As in, no photographs.

Thank you Marian, L'nu Grandmother who spent four years living at Treaty Truckhouse One, protecting the waters of the Shubenecadie River from Alton Gas, and Zacc and Katie who have anchored Treaty Truckhouse Two, working to restore free flow to the Avon River.

Though neither struggle is completely over, major progress had been made in protecting both rivers, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our visitors and many other.

Across Canada, across all of Turtle Island, Indigenous peoples have been in the front lines, protecting the earth from further damage. It is inspiring to have visits here at Last Hope from some of those Land Defenders and Water Protectors. They bring warm support and appreciation, but also the laughter of experience at the assorted challenges of pulling together and maintaining a camp like this.

One message that sounded loud and clear was "Let people help you. They want to help. Let them." This camp would not still be here, 10 weeks on, without so many different kinds of help from so many people. This includes getting the word out about what we are doing. Yesterday, the team at Canopy Creative, Wes and Mackenzie plus intrepid driver Sam, started filming a short documentary about the Last Hope camp. We're excited!

Day 71 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 10, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Last Hope Camp - winter

The province of Nova Scotia makes a point of considering proposed harvests on a plot-by-plot basis, without regard for the region as a whole, and, from this postage-stamp perspective, heavy harvest prescriptions rule the day, the result of armchair biology reliant on GIS data and blissful ignorance.

Without each cut in context, entire landscapes are picked apart piecemeal, hiding the impotence of a "gentle" 24 hectare cut from the hundreds of surrounding hectares already in ruins. And, as is common practice in Nova Scotian forestry, even the mild 30 per cent cuts are often followed up with additional cuts in proceeding years.

The protestors of Camp Last Hope, having already endured the worst of January, intend to stay until the harvest is called off by the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, and this area is placed under consideration for formal protection by the Department of Environment. It could be a long wait, and they're prepared.

"It will, at some point, get warmer," quipped Nina.
#savetheforest #biodiversityloss #ClimateCrisis

Full story: Camp Last Hope - Why we should expect more
by Zack Metcalfe, Alternative Journal, Voice of Canada's Environment

Day 70 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 9, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

3 Forest Defenders

Day 70 of the campaign to save a 24 hectare forest, a tiny jewel in the sea of 10,000 hectares of approved cuts for the year.

There have been so many awesome people involved in this effort, either coming to stay overnight, or delivering supplies and staying to chat and offer support and encouragement, or writing to the government asking that they save this site.

Citizens concerned about our forests have had to do DNRR's work of talking to local people, some of whom have lived here for decades and even generations, to discover what they know of these lands. They have witnessed the changes and speak with knowledge and passion about what these forests mean to them. They speak about the impact of forestry on flora and fauna, the disappearance of diversity in tree species. They talk about sustainable practices they and their parents and even grandparents used to obtain firewood and wood for building from the lands they love.

Why aren't DNRR staff speaking to and listening to local people before approving cuts? Why is the department's Harvest Plan Map Viewer so difficult and obtuse to use? Why are harvest sites identified by meaningless numbers instead of geographical locations plus number so that people could easily look up proposed cuts?

Does DNRR think citizens involved with the Forest protectors randomly picked a site to save instead of speaking to local people and researching this particular forest and its ecological value? There is a befuddling stubbornness of DNRR to actually engage with anyone who questions their practices. They appear to regard acknowledgement that their decision might be wrong as giving in, as opposed to, thanking citizens for caring enough to make them aware that a site has ecological value and their decision needs to be reversed.

It has taken someone finding three species of at-risk lichen for a temporary halt to be called. A halt that may only lead to marking a 100 meter buffer zone around those lichen and resumption of cutting putting a strain on the ability of those lichen to spread. Will DNRR privilege cutting of a forest or, at least save a 24 hectare 80 year old forest? A forest home not only to these lichen but three at risk animal species that local people have told us they have seen in this area over the past few years.

Day 68 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 7, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Snow in the forest

Yesterday brought sunshine and cold, a perfect dusting of snow to spot snowshoe hares going about their business. The more time we spend in these woods the deeper our commitment grows to protecting them from cutting.

Clearcuts as far as the eye can see
When you walk down the road and across the bridge over Beal's Brook, the moment you pass the inadequate 20 meter buffer zone along the brook, there is a big clearcut to the right. Keep walking a little further over the second bridge and all you see is clearcuts as far as the eye can see. The young birch are beautiful, ice shining on their branches, but this is no longer a forest and it won't be one for a very long time. If the forestry industry has its way, it may never be a forest again as their plan seems to be to cut on short rotations, meaning they come back and mow down the regrowth in 30 to 40 years. That's what "High Production Forestry" means.

No, it's not the same
The contractor trying to clearcut moose habitat down in Digby County claimed in all seriousness that what they were doing was just like cutting corn in the Valley. Corn is an annual crop. It sets seed every summer then dies every fall. Trees, well, trees live longer than we do, most of them, if they are allowed to.

The pioneers, the ones that grow back up in clearcuts - grey and paper birch, white spruce, balsam fir - their life spans are more like ours. But as they grow they prepare the way for the long lived species - yellow birch, red spruce, hemlock, sugar maple. Along the way there are accidents, disturbances. Different conditions favour different combinations of species. It's complicated. All forests are dynamic. Old forests are resilient because they are so full of relationships. Between trees, between trees and fungal networks in the soil, between trees and lichens and birds and all the other inhabitants of the forest.

Nina Newington Forest Defender

Running out of time
The critical ingredient for restoring a forest used to be time. If we left the clearcuts alone long enough, in all likelihood a natural Wabanaki (Acadian) forest would regrow. It would take centuries to re-establish the complex web of life that existed in forests across Mi'kma'ki before the settlers arrived. But the odds were good that it would happen.

That is no longer something we can count on. Repeated clearcutting of the same sites have acidified soils and reduced fertility to the point that trees are not regrowing. Then there is the impact of fire. Settlers torched forests across Mi'kma'ki in the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s. Wildfires are not a part of what is called "the natural disturbance regime" of this maritime land. They followed colonial settlement and they scarred the land. In places near where we are camped, fires burned off much of the thin layer of soil. Then the forest that had slowly grown up was clearcut 15 years ago. Now hardly any trees are growing. It still looks like the three year old clearcut nearby.

XRNS Winter Camp

So many human-caused forces are now arrayed against our forests we can no longer count on their resilience.

A perilous place
We have undermined too many natural systems. We settlers. We who have accepted the destruction of nature in the name of jobs and goods. Treating nature as if it is something we can dominate, exploit, own has brought us to a perilous place. Even the way we grow corn is not sustainable. Industrial agriculture has depleted rich Valley soils as drastically as industrial forestry has depleted the forest soils. In this province wildlife is being driven to extinction while governments make promises. Intact forests that shelter the remaining animals are under threat.

Grim? Yes. But it is never too late to make things worse - or better.
Many of us know in our minds and hearts that it is madness to treat nature this way. Many of us know in the fibres of our being that we are a part of nature. Not separate. Not alone. Join us in whatever ways you find. Resist the ongoing destruction. We must save what we can.

Day 66 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 5, 2022 - South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

Well, we rode out another storm. Kept the ice from building up on our tents but the birches are bent low. Yesterday's freezing rain made it possible today to walk on top of the two and a half feet of snow so we went looking for rare lichens. Good thing somebody else had flagged one. We mostly marvelled at how many different kinds of lichen we saw in one short walk in these beautiful woods.

As forests age, they develop ever more complex ecosystems. Even experts know only a little. The more you know about something, the more you know you don't know. One of many reasons we need to protect forests like this. Some humility is called for. If we want a livable planet we have to start respecting the natural systems we all depend on. Time to learn from the people who lived for thousands of years in this place without devastating it. Msit No'kmaq. All my relations.

Another winter storm at the camp Two dedicated forest defenders Last Hope Camp Lichen

Day 65 Last Hope Wildlife Corridor Camp: February 4, 2022 South Mountain, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia)

"It's pouring rain outside. Time for a few art shots, ranging from "Still Life with Fire Extinguisher" to "Reflections" to "Study in Red." There seems to be a theme. Heat and light. Shelter. For us. For the wildlife."

Camp Last Hope sign
camping food, fire extinguisher red sleeping bag

Protect Last Hope Wildlife Corridor