When members of Extinction Rebellion showed up with signs at Market Square in Annapolis Royal May 19, they were informing people about the province’s plans to harvest an old growth forest on the South Mountain near Bridgetown.
XR members oppose the cut that would be performed by WestFor, and if it comes down to it, they’ll block the harvest. They’re on standby as of May 19.
“It wasn’t really a protest, it was more to inform people about Corbett Lake and join us in opposing the cut,” organizer Nina Newington said of the Sunday event where more than a dozen people took part. “They talked to people and they actually had a number – I think eight – people sign up to join what ever civil disobedience action’s involved.”
If they get word that harvesting has resumed, XR members and supporters will head to the location.
“We have a couple of people who live near there who will, the best that they can, alert us of any equipment moving in, action happening, and then we have a phone tree,” Newington said, noting those who can will get out to the 80-hectare site right away.
“Basically the intent is to – without causing any kind of violence or damage to property – is to get in the way of the harvest,” she said.
See Also: CLIMATE FOREST
“Through non-violent direct action, Extinction Rebellion Forest Protectors intend to protect this forest, an ecologically intact mixed hardwood forest in the midst of a sea of clear-cuts,” XR said in a media release before the May 19 event in Annapolis Royal. “This old forest is not officially classified as an old growth forest, yet – and it never will be if this cut happens.”
Members of Annapolis County Extinction Rebellion were outside of the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale for an hour to share information about the planned cuts and gather potential supporters to help ‘Stop the Chop.’
Newington, a horticulturalist, visited the small 80-hectare peninsula between Corbett and Dalhousie lakes off the Morse Road that goes from Bridgetown to West Dalhousie.
She was amazed by the biodiversity and believes the forest is significant.
“It’s a remarkably rich piece of forest,” she said. “I’ve tromped around a lot of forests in Nova Scotia and I haven’t really been in a piece of forest that’s got such a dense layer of different species, and that’s an indication of age and richness. It’s a really rich understory. It takes about 400 years to restore that herbaceous understory.”
Newington believes that the climate crisis, as in the need for carbon sequestration, and the biodiversity crisis are two sides of the same coin and by tackling one, you’re tackling the other.
“Both of those are very primary to Extinction Rebellion,” she said. “It’s not a ‘one-or-the-other.’”
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Newington said when asked why take action now. “There’s a specific concern about this forest, and Bev Wigney in particular has done a really fabulous job of alerting people to what a gem this forest is, and it’s 10 minutes out of Bridgetown, and it’s between two lakes, and it’s on an historic canoe route.”
But she thinks in a bigger way people are tired of having government ask ‘what do you want us to do with the forests’ and when the people respond ‘stop clear-cutting, restore the forests’ they do another study.
“Even with the (Bill) Lahey Report they’ve okayed clear-cutting for another year,” she said. “They’re approving harvests that won’t be stopped even if they bring that in. Everybody I talk to, truly, has said ‘oh my god I’m so relieved somebody is going to do something because nothing else is working.’ I’ve written my letters, and we’ve signed our petitions – sometimes it helps; it might well have helped in this case. The municipal council for Annapolis County approved asking the province to hand over the forest yesterday. Basically I would say people are really, heartily sick.”
She said the feeling of urgency and despair is getting stronger and stronger because we have more and more information.
“People’s willingness to just go on hoping it will get better, or feeling despairing and not doing anything – that’s changing,” she said.
The local XR group is part of a global movement lead by Extinction Rebellion, a U.K. organization committed to addressing the climate crisis by performing acts of non-violent civil disobedience.