HALIFAX/K’JIPUKTUK, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE MI’KMAQ PEOPLE – Conservation groups and concerned citizens will appear before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court tomorrow to defend their right to peacefully protest clearcutting in endangered Mainland moose habitat in Nova Scotia.
In fall 2020, members of Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia Association and concerned citizens began blocking access to an area of Crown land to draw attention to the Department of Lands and Forestry’s continued failure to uphold the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act and protect Mainland moose habitat.
On Dec. 11, the group (also known as the Forest Protectors) were served with an injunction obtained by WestFor Management Inc. that required them to stop blocking the logging roads.
Lawyers from Ecojustice, supported by Juniper Law, are defending the group against this injunction.
The Forest Protectors demanded an immediate moratorium on all proposed and current logging on Crown lands between the Silver River and Tobeatic Wilderness Areas in Southwest Nova Scotia.
The Forest Protectors say that government inaction has left them no other option than to blockade logging roads to stand up for Mainland moose and the forests they need to survive.
It is estimated that fewer than 500 Mainland moose remain in the wild in Nova Scotia. Despite the species’ dire circumstances and numerous expert reports recommending protecting the species’ habitat, the Department of Lands and Forestry has historically failed to protect Mainland moose.
For example, the government has yet to implement a court order requiring it to revise the Mainland moose recovery plan to identify core habitat. It has also failed to act on the Lahey Report’s call for reforms to the forestry industry, including large scale reductions in clearcutting and the enforcement of the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act.
Nina Newington, Forest Protector, Extinction Rebellion said:
“We blocked these logging roads as a last resort to stop the clearcutting of habitat the Mainland moose need to survive. Our government has broken its promises and ignored a court ruling. It has ignored countless letters and calls. It has ignored a petition with over 30,000 signatures. It refused to meet with citizens who camped out on remote logging roads for eight weeks.
“Now the consortium this government pays to manage our public lands is seeking to extend an injunction barring anyone from taking any actions similar to the ones we took on all lands subject to the Licence Agreement between WestFor and the Province. It’s time this government started meeting its own legal obligations and responding to the concerns of citizens, instead of dancing to the tune of industrial forestry.”
James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, Ecojustice lawyer said:
“The Department of Lands and Forestry has demonstrated time and again that it is not up to the task of fulfilling its duty to protect the province’s endangered species and their habitats. Mainland moose are just one such example of these failures.
“When governments refuse to act, citizens have no other choice but to take direct action. We’re heading to court to ensure our clients are able to engage their legal right to stand up against an industry-captured department and peacefully protest to protect Mainland moose habitat.”
Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.
Jamie Simpson of Juniper Law is dedicated to working with clients to find legal solutions to environmental and natural resources challenges in Nova Scotia.
Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia is part of a global network of Extinction Rebellion (XR) groups that began in the UK in 2018. Its goal is to get governments around the world to take action to address the Climate and Biodiversity Crises. Its specific demands are simple: Tell the Truth. Act Now. Involve Citizens. XR’s tactics are rooted in respect and non-violent direct action.