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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 62-71

Harnessing Compass to Gyroscope in Protected Areas Planning in Nova Scotia, Canada: The Colin Stewart Forest Forum

1 School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
2 Protected Areas and Ecosystems Branch, Nova Scotia Department of Environment, Halifax, NS, Canada
3 Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Peter N Duinker
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.161224

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Date of Web Publication20-Jul-2015


To address the integration of science and politics for environmental conservation, Kai Lee wrote a powerful book in 1993 entitled Compass and gyroscope. The compass represents the science of adaptive management and the gyroscope represents the politics of principled or bounded negotiation. As the twenty-first century dawned, environmental groups and forest-products companies in Nova Scotia intuitively knew that they needed a process combining these two elements to develop joint recommendations to the government on new protected areas in the province while mitigating impacts on the provincial wood supply. They initiated the Colin Stewart Forest Forum for this purpose and engaged in intensive analyses and negotiations from 2004 to 2009. The Forum delivered a report to the Government of Nova Scotia in which some 269,000 ha of land were identified as high priority for conservation, including an initial first slate of proposed protected areas totalling 58,000 ha of land with high conservation value but low impacts on wood supply. To demonstrate the power of linking competent technical analysis with principled negotiations, we describe the Forum process and reflect on several themes important in biasing such a process for success. Our analysis confirms the utility of strong attention to both the compass and the gyroscope in environmental conservation.

Keywords: adaptive management, principled negotiation, protected areas, conflict resolution, Colin Stewart Forest Forum, Nova Scotia, Canada

How to cite this article:
Duinker PN, deGooyer G K, Miller CA. Harnessing Compass to Gyroscope in Protected Areas Planning in Nova Scotia, Canada: The Colin Stewart Forest Forum. Conservat Soc 2015;13:62-71

How to cite this URL:
Duinker PN, deGooyer G K, Miller CA. Harnessing Compass to Gyroscope in Protected Areas Planning in Nova Scotia, Canada: The Colin Stewart Forest Forum. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jan 18];13:62-71. Available from: http://www.conservationandsociety.org/text.asp?2015/13/1/62/161224

Preface: All three authors were participants in the Colin Stewart Forest Forum. Kermit deGooyer and Chris Miller were members of both the Steering Committee and the technical working groups on behalf of the Ecology Action Centre and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, respectively. Peter Duinker, a member of the Management Committee of the Nova Forest Alliance, helped facilitate meetings of the Steering Committee and the Wood Supply Joint Technical Working Group.

   Introduction Top

Compass and gyroscope

Both the scholarship and practical experiences of environmental problem-solving have advanced significantly in recent decades. On one hand, the technical domain has witnessed a strong development of science-based approaches to gain insights about potential futures for natural resources (e.g., Holling 1978; Walters 1986) and the environment (e.g., Beanlands and Duinker 1984; Duinker and Baskerville 1986). On the other hand, the political domain has been characterised by a shift away from top-down administrative approaches to a range of implementations one could associate with network governance (e.g., Provan and Kenis 2007; Robins et al. 2011). Lee (1993) elegantly and persuasively captured the essence of these developments as follows-the science of adaptive management is akin to the compass, pointing out potential ways forward. The politics of principled negotiation is akin to the gyroscope, indicating system stability and helping choose wisely among the potential futures.

Few authors have taken this framework-offered as a powerful approach to integrating science and politics for the environment-to examine how both scholars and practitioners understand and develop processes for sustainable development. Duinker (2012) did so recently to evaluate the development of a new forest strategy in Nova Scotia. In this paper, we use the framework to examine a recent initiative in Nova Scotia aimed at completion of the province's network of protected areas. We proceed on the basis of the following proposition-processes aimed at resolution of broad-scale, long-term resource and environmental problems will be significantly biased for success when the science of adaptive management and the politics of principled negotiation are integrated into decision-making.

Protected areas in Nova Scotia

For a small province (just over 55,000 sq. km), Nova Scotia supports an important component of Canada's native terrestrial biodiversity. Situated in the mid-latitudes, the province is part of the transition zone of the Acadian forest, where the hardwood forests further south meet the boreal forest further north (Loo and Ives 2003). Completing a system of protected areas in the province, however, is a daunting task. A multitude of native forest types, complex underlying geology, varied topography and coastlines, and an irregular distribution of productive soils mean that many places need protecting just to establish a network of representative areas that adequately captures the province's landscape diversity (Beazley et al. 2005). This, combined with a dwindling amount of large intact forests in the province and a growing list of species at risk, as well as the small proportion of the province's land in public ownership and substantial commitments to provide wood supply to forest companies, means that protecting the native biodiversity in the province is a challenge, even under the best of circumstances. Nonetheless, progress is being made in creating protected areas in Nova Scotia (Government of Nova Scotia 2013).

In 2010, about 8.6% of the provincial land area (ca. 473,000 ha) was considered by the Government of Nova Scotia to be legally protected, including national parks (as designated under the Canada National Parks Act, 2000), provincial wilderness areas (as designated under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, 1998), and provincial nature reserves (as designated under the Special Places Protection Act, 1989), as well as a handful of other types of protected areas. In Nova Scotia's Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act (2007), the province committed to protecting 12% of the provincial landmass (ca. 660,000 ha) by 2015, and has taken a number of important steps in recent years to make this happen, including purchasing thousands of hectares of land for conservation. In the Nova Scotia context, "protected area" implies no timber harvest, among other things.

To provide context for the jurisdictional setting, the Government of Canada has a limited role in landscape protection through its national parks (there are two in Nova Scotia), and it has no role in matters of provincial wood supply. Municipalities are also not involved in wood-supply issues, and their parks are usually too small or too heavily used for recreational purposes to be considered as part of the protected-areas system. Thus, the burden for designation and management of protected areas in Nova Scotia, as well as all matters related to industrial wood supply, fall under the purview of the Government of Nova Scotia.

Background to the Colin Stewart Forest Forum

The recent progress in Nova Scotia to create new protected areas has come about, in large part, as a consequence of the work of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum. This process brought together leading environmental groups in the province with some of the largest forest-products companies to identify candidate sites for new protected areas as well as a combination of mitigation options to reduce impacts on wood supply and costs. Although difficult at times, the negotiations were ultimately successful in producing a consensus document to the Government of Nova Scotia (CSFF Steering Committee 2009) recommending consideration of new protected areas and a suite of mitigation options to offset impacts on the industrial wood supply.

An appetite for the Forum negotiations developed from earlier events. Only after many years of campaigning by the environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs) did the forest-products industry, as owners/tenants of huge tracts of timber-producing land, come to the table to discuss protected areas. The campaigns stretch back to the 1990s, when the provincial government made substantial progress creating an initial system of protected areas (as per the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, 1998) but stalled later as apparent gaps went unfilled. ENGOs were sceptical of the government, which appeared to be locking up public lands from any further consideration of future protected areas, even though the system was far from complete. The result was a public battle to protect wilderness in Nova Scotia, which pitted ENGOs against forest-products companies and the government. That battle eventually resulted in the creation of two new protected wilderness areas in central Nova Scotia, which signalled to industry that the government was not finished creating more protected areas, despite assurances from some within government that this would not happen.

Weary of a drawn-out and unpredictable string of ad-hoc protected-area announcements, some industry leaders, particularly those who became participants in the Forum, openly voiced support for a formal process with government and ENGOs to resolve conflicts over other areas proposed for protection. Doing so would provide reduced uncertainty over long-term wood supply-when, where and how much wood would be available-and reduce the potentially endless reworking of operational timber-management plans as queued-up harvest areas were sporadically lost to new protected areas.

The collaboration idea was also being discussed in ENGO circles. Long public battles for one site at a time were challenging ENGO capacity and not producing conservation outcomes quickly enough. There was also no guarantee that the pace of designations would pick up significantly in the future, given the ENGO perception that the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was blocking the creation of new protected areas. Meanwhile, logging and road-building were still infiltrating important sites for protection. There was a growing desire for a direct and meaningful dialogue with industry to work through conflicts for the creation of new protected areas without interference from government. This led to creation of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum.

Approach to the paper

The purpose of this article is to provide an account of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum process and our main learnings from direct involvement in the process. This work is not a social network analysis (e.g., Carlsson and Sandström 2008) of the Forum process, but rather a retrospective using Lee's (1993) two essential components of complex endeavours dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable development. It is a scholarly and practical reflection on a process in which all three of us were intimately involved. We are fully aware that we thus risk the pitfall of unduly praising the Forum. That said, we are confident to let the Forum results speak for themselves.

As it turns out, neither have there been any independent scholarly examinations of the Forum process, nor were there any substantive reports about it in the public media while the process was underway. Therefore, we are unable to make reference to any publications about the Colin Stewart Forest Forum except to conference proceedings about its genesis (Doucette and Duinker 2005) and its final report (CSFF Steering Committee 2009).

To set this paper into the context of others in the special section (Wiersma et al. 2015), we refer to the spatial level at which the Colin Stewart Forest Forum addressed issues related to protected areas and sustainable forest management. Some of the papers in the set (e.g., Carlson et al. 2015) address the issues at a national level (such as Canada's entire boreal forest), whereas others (e.g., Hvenegaard et al. 2015) deal with the issues at a local scale. The work of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum addressed issues at a provincial level, which in the Nova Scotia setting means dealing with conservation themes across a few million hectares of provincial jurisdiction.

   The Forum Process Top

The Colin Stewart Forest Forum process was named after a former World Wildlife Fund coordinator in Nova Scotia and well-respected veteran of several wilderness battles in the province. In 2003, with Colin's health deteriorating, he appealed to leaders on both sides (ENGOs and industry) to work out the protected-areas juggernaut through collaborative planning and negotiation. He also appealed to academics and other organisations such as the Nova Forest Alliance (NFA), one of Canada's Model Forests, to offer their analytical and facilitative services. The process that would eventually bear his name began shortly after Colin died at age 50, in winter 2004.

The Colin Stewart Forest Forum process started in spring 2004 with an initial meeting between several ENGOs and forest companies. The group decided to organise a two-day conference involving around 70 forest-conservation advocates and forest-industry officials. Objectives of the conferences were fourfold-to have a direct and unfiltered dialogue between ENGOs and industry on forest interests and issues; to identify areas of agreement and disagreement as well as opportunities for collaborative progress; to develop a better understanding of ENGO and industry perspectives; and to lay a foundation for a protected-areas strategy for Nova Scotia (Doucette and Duinker 2005). The government's role was intentionally limited to two observers, one senior official each from DNR and the Department of Environment (DOE). The NFA agreed to host, organise, and facilitate the event, and it took place in Debert, NS, in November 2004 (Doucette and Duinker 2005).

Discussions at the Debert meeting focussed on the two main outstanding issues in forest sustainability at the time-1) completion of the province's protected-areas network; and 2) forest practices on the remainder of the province's forest land. The former was adopted as the priority, as participants shared more common ground on that issue. We would characterise the tone of the meeting as one where interpersonal tensions remained under control and feelings of goodwill, respect, and appreciation prevailed. Without doubt, the positive atmosphere of the meeting was partly due to the fact that the participants were not expected to make firm commitments to each other on contentious issues. Idea-sharing was the order of the day. Some of the core stakeholders took the positive outcome of the Debert meeting as a sign that fruitful negotiations could now begin.

The Memorandum of Understanding and the Steering Committee

Early in 2005, four forest-products companies (Bowater Mersey Paper Company Ltd. (now out of business), JD Irving Ltd., Neenah Paper (now Northern Pulp Nova Scotia Corp.), and StoraEnso Port Hawkesbury Ltd. (now Port Hawkesbury Paper)) and two ENGOs (Ecology Action Centre, and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Colin Stewart Forest Forum process. The MOU signified the beginning of deliberations and analyses that would lead to jointly developed recommendations to the Government of Nova Scotia on expanding the protected areas network while mitigating potential wood supply and cost impacts to the forest-products industry. One or two representatives of each organisation were named as members of the Forum Steering Committee. With time, two land trusts also signed the MOU, and the government's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Environment (DOE) accepted invitations to participate as non-voting ex officio representatives on the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee became the central body of negotiations in working toward consensus on recommendations to government. Two working groups were formed to undertake the main analytical tasks of the Forum-a Protected Areas Joint Technical Working Group, and a Wood Supply Joint Technical Working Group. Representatives of each of the MOU signatories were invited to participate in each working group.

Analysis of protected-areas opportunities

The protected-areas analysis used both coarse and fine filters to identify potential new protected areas. At a coarse scale, the protected areas working group used spatial datasets on forests and roads, as well as satellite imagery going back to the 1980s to map relatively large and undisturbed roadless tracts. In regions where large roadless tracts no longer existed, cutover lands in roaded areas within large intact ownerships were identified with an eye towards long-term wilderness restoration. Characteristics relating to geology, geomorphology, soils, topography, hydrology, and vegetation were further evaluated to assess the potential of each site to fill gaps in the provincial protected areas network. Fine-filter analysis consisted of delineating additional sites with concentrations of rare or sensitive ecosystems, and habitats of species at risk. These "special-element-based" areas were typically smaller than the representative roadless tracts. The working group also hosted mapping workshops with experts on various taxa and conducted field visits to some sites.

Analysis of wood-supply mitigation opportunities

The wood-supply and cost-mitigation analysis was premised on the goal of ensuring that new protected areas as recommended through the Forum proposal would not decrease the supply of softwood fibre available to the forest industry, nor increase the cost of wood delivered to the mills. While provincial wood-supply projections run by DNR showed an optimistic long-term outlook (both with and without new protected areas), the supply for the next twenty years (2005-2025) was tight. The biggest challenge was to identify how to sustain short-term softwood supply in the face of a contracted land base for timber production due to new protected areas. To identify preferred mitigation strategies, the Wood Supply Joint Technical Working Group brainstormed dozens of potential ideas, and gradually narrowed them down to a small set of preferred options specific for each company and for each region of the province.

To improve the likelihood of consensus, the Forum partners agreed that mitigation strategies should be effective, feasible, and responsible. "Effective" meant that the partners were confident the strategy could actually produce a meaningful short-term potential wood supply increase or cost savings that could be applied against the impact of protecting more land. "Feasible" strategies were technically sound, affordable, and would not compromise mill competitiveness. "Responsible" meant that the strategy would not diminish other forest values, such as biodiversity, across the broader landscape. DNR staff ran provincial wood-supply models to demonstrate the expected effectiveness and feasibility of the candidate mitigation strategies, and these outcomes were discussed at length by the Steering Committee.

   The Forum's Report of November 2009 Top

The Forum submitted its final report to the Government of Nova Scotia in November 2009 (CSFF Steering Committee 2009). Its key findings include recommendations on both protected areas, and wood-supply and cost mitigation.

The report identified 269,000 ha of potential new protected areas (ca. 4.9% of the provincial land area), spread across a mix of large representative patches and smaller special-element-based parcels. Depending on which sites eventually become protected, these areas could dramatically raise the level of landscape representation for over half of the natural regions that were at the time under-represented in the protected-areas network (CSFF Steering Committee 2009). They would also afford protection to many of Nova Scotia's last remaining intact forests, old-forest concentrations, hotspots for species at risk, and undeveloped coastline.

The Forum divided potential candidates for protection into two tiers that define temporal priority. "Tier 1" sites (highest priority for protection) totalled 215,000 ha. A slate of "Tier 2" sites totalling 54,000 ha was identified as secondary priorities. The Forum, though not limited to a 12% target, was interested in providing clear recommendations on how the provincial government could achieve its protected-areas goal. Lands in excess of the roughly 189,000 ha needed to achieve the 12% target were identified 1) to provide government with flexibility in the final site-selection process in recognition of the need for meaningful public, stakeholder, and Aboriginal consultations, and 2) recognising that certain companies may opt out of selling or trading private lands for conservation which would have left a gap in achieving the 12% target from lands recommended by the Forum.

To encourage incremental progress in protected-area designations, the report identified a subset of 175 Tier-1 sites totalling 58,000 ha whose immediate protection would not trigger significant wood-supply or cost impacts for the industry. Designation of these high-priority/low-conflict sites (or "first slate" sites), the Forum pointed out, need not be delayed while wood-supply mitigation details were worked out for other sites.

With the exception of this "first slate", the report noted that the protection of areas likely rests on acceptable wood-supply mitigation scenarios being worked out among the province, ENGOs, and industry partners. Wood-supply modelling conducted by DNR found that protecting all Tier 1 sites on Crown land (about 75% of all Forum selections) would cause a 9% drop in the potential spruce-fir harvest (long-term maximum sustainable yield) from the Crown land base. This is equivalent to about 2% of the potential harvest from all Nova Scotia forests. The report recommended nine preferred mitigation strategies, chosen from an initial list of about 50:

  • overlapping some proposed protected areas with lands already constrained against timber harvesting;
  • increasing the level of pre-commercial thinning on Forum partner lands;
  • developing a market for low-quality hardwood to make scattered stands of softwood within hardwood-dominated regions more economical to harvest;
  • factoring in relaxed harvesting constraints in areas of marginal conservation value, including areas designated as "old forest" areas that were not actually old forest;
  • allowing some limited harvests in some future protected areas prior to designation for restoration purposes (e.g., in plantations);
  • accessing unallocated wood from Crown lands, particularly in western Nova Scotia;
  • increasing participation of small private woodlots in the provincial wood supply;
  • acquisition of private lands by government for both protected areas and future wood supply; and
  • potential revenues for conservation from climate-change mitigation scenarios.

The Forum's report (CSFF Steering Committee 2009) described each strategy, including the extent of its expected potential wood-supply increase or cost savings, as well as various caveats and limitations to each. Because the operational and business models varied among the Forum's industry partners, the list was viewed as a menu wherein different combinations of preferred strategies appealed to different companies. The report detailed the differences in preferences for each company. Wood-supply projections run by DNR indicated that numerous combinations of the above strategies could more than recoup the volume of wood "losses" to potential protected areas identified by the Forum.

The final report did not lay out the minutia of each mitigation strategy. Rather, the Forum recommended that each company work out mitigation details with the province and ENGOs on a company-by-company basis, building from the list of preferred strategies and general descriptions highlighted in the report.

The report included a number of process recommendations to help ensure smooth and timely implementation of the substantive proposals. These related to development moratoriums (on all development activities that might take place on Crown land), public and stakeholder consultations, and First Nations engagement. Three of the four industry partners agreed to a one-year timber-harvest and road-building moratorium on most of the protected-area selections under their control. The fourth had already suspended timber-harvest operations on most its lands for economic reasons, but put much of it for sale on the open market before the negotiations ended.

Recommendations looking at the long term acknowledged that additional work would be required to plug gaps in the protected-areas network even after the Forum proposal is implemented, and that biodiversity conservation on unprotected lands in Nova Scotia still needs attention. Forum partners indicated their willingness to work collaboratively with each other and the provincial government to tackle both issues, but did not commit to any specific process.

   Results and Discussion Top

We have chosen a set of themes which embody the main lessons to have emerged for us and for the other participants. All but one of the themes-implementation-are related to Lee's (1993) compass and gyroscope, so we have organised them accordingly.

Compass: the science of adaptive management

A rigorous interpretation of adaptive management suggests that it requires: 1) formal technical processes aimed at producing insights on future possible actions and their consequences; 2) monitoring of both action implementation and system response; and 3) learning through comparative analysis of the foresight and hindsight data to determine the degrees and causes of divergence (Duinker and Trevisan 2003). Given how recent the work of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum was, we can at this point only discuss the first item in this list.

Forum partners committed early in the process to using science-based analysis (Duinker 1986; Greig and Duinker 2011) to help define the scope of the problem, drive the selection of potential protected areas, and assess potential wood-supply impacts and mitigation. Without incisive technical inquiry, it would have been impossible to have any confidence that identification of priority areas for protection was based on contemporary concepts of conservation biology. That analytical process required detailed attention to the opportunities for, and constraints against, protection on all unprotected land in the province, on one hand, and the criteria for priority-setting for protection on the other. Fortunately, the data resources and analytical skill sets needed for success in this work were brought by the very organisations and individuals at the Forum table.

If this process had been undertaken a few decades ago, the level of sophistication in deciphering potential impacts of further land protection on the provincial wood supply would have been extremely crude. By the time of the Forum, though, the analytical tools and datasets available for projecting future forest structures and wood supply were well developed and the Forum could profitably use the results of such analysis. Again, the data needs and analytical skill sets were available and provided by the parties to the Forum. This meant that, for both sets of analyses (i.e., identification of priority areas for protection, and assessment of potential effects on the provincial wood supply), outside expertise, data, and models were not needed, and the required contributions for scientific work were all available on an in-kind basis from the participants.

From both conceptual and practical perspectives, the analytical foundations of the Forum process, as a first step in the science of adaptive management, were wholly adequate to the task. The Forum participants' firm commitment to science-based analysis provided much-needed clarity and objectivity on the complex issues under consideration. The broad involvement of most of the parties' representatives at the Forum table in the scientific work provided transparency and assurance to all parties about the methods used in the analyses. The underlying basis for making decisions and reaching consensus was based on the outputs of the technical analyses which were carried out using scientific tools. Fortunately, Forum participants saw the scientific work as absolutely necessary, even if yet insufficient, for confident and progressive decisions to arise from the process. In our view, the Colin Stewart Forest Forum proceeded down technical avenues that are fully consistent with the earliest (and strongest) conceptions of adaptive management (e.g., Holling 1978) as so elegantly elaborated by Lee (1993).

Gyroscope: the politics of bounded negotiation

Processes of conflict resolution such as the Colin Stewart Forest Forum, where the politics of bounded negotiation are put into practice, face myriad challenges (Crowfoot and Wondolleck 1990; Fisher et al. 1991; Johnson and Duinker 1993; Commission on Resources and Environment 1995; Castro and Nielsen 2003; Palen et al. 2004). Several key steps were undertaken to overcome those challenges and raise the chances that the Forum discussions would be successful. Many factors contributed to that success. We provide the following insights on those factors.

Environmentalists and industrial people have rarely been able and/or willing to engage collaboratively to work out their differences. An initial leap of faith is required by all parties to enter into discussions where there is no guarantee of success and the risk of failure is great. While the leap of faith applies to all parties, each will assess its own risks separately. In the Forum, both sides took the plunge, a necessary (but insufficient) condition for success. Despite uncertainty among the parties as to what the final outcome might be (Johnson and Duinker 1993), the plunge was seen as worth the risk, and participants could all see a clear reason to seek consensus (Canadian Round Tables 1993).

Process success is enhanced by a good set of terms of reference (Hansen 1995). Having a clear memorandum of understanding (MOU) from the beginning of the Forum process was crucial in overcoming stalemates and providing the necessary clarity for the ensuing negotiations. This was particularly the case when discussions were slowed by the sheer volume and complexity of the technical analyses, and when difficult issues were confronted such as diverse opinions over definitions, recommendations, and what to include in the final report. The MOU was short and to the point, clearly defining the purpose of the negotiations. When the discussions strayed off course, its wording often helped the parties get back on track. The MOU was especially critical during the initial phases of the process, when a considerable amount of uncertainty still existed, because it stated that the parties would work together in good faith and could walk away from the discussions at any time. This helped allay concerns about getting trapped in a lengthy process that could either diverge from its original intent or where a successful outcome could not be achieved.

For the Forum to have reached a successful conclusion, it was imperative for all parties to work together to build trust (see Gilbert 2007). This was no easy task considering that the period immediately preceding the Forum negotiations was termed "the battle for Nova Scotia's wilderness", a very public struggle often waged through the media. Clearly, building trust was needed, and by coming together and discussing issues openly and honestly, the level of trust among parties gradually increased. It helped that each side freely offered ideas to help advance the discussions. It also meant giving the benefit of the doubt on many occasions, understanding the use of each other's jargon, ensuring that key definitions meant the same thing to each side and were being used in the same way, sharing information and data, respecting confidentiality, being disciplined enough not to get bogged down on topics outside the scope of the negotiations, and following through on commitments and projects.

Having a facilitator was often extremely important, especially when difficult conversations were required for the negotiations to move forward (Duinker and Wanlin 1994; Hansen 1995). Also important was that a number of individuals from both the environmental and industry sides had previously worked together. This existing level of trust between certain individuals was vital in building trust for all parties. One forest company, for instance, had its existing system of protected areas on private freehold land designed in part by one of the environmentalists working in the Forum negotiations almost a decade earlier.

One of the keys to the Forum's success was the participation of the Nova Forest Alliance (NFA) and the Government of Nova Scotia. The NFA is a partnership-based organisation of various stakeholders with an interest in forest sustainability in Nova Scotia and, at the time, was part of Canada's Model Forest Network (Nova Forest Alliance 2011). It provided key logistic and administrative support for the Forum discussions and the necessary neutral ground where open and frank discussions among parties could take place. The knowledge and experience of dedicated staff working at the NFA was important, as well as the facilitation provided.

Early in the process, the Government of Nova Scotia requested to be part of the Forum. After careful consideration, industry and ENGO representatives agreed to invite DOE and DNR representatives as partners in the Forum. Original participants knew that this would extend the process, but felt that it increased the likelihood that government would implement the Forum's recommendations (see Canadian Round Tables 1993). The provincial government also provided up-to-date spatial datasets critical for the protected-areas analysis, as well as important analyses of wood supply to test the viability of various proposed mitigation options. Both departments dedicated personnel to the Forum work and were involved in the technical analyses for protected areas and wood supply. This support was invaluable for the Forum process.

At its peak, the Forum discussions included four forest companies, four ENGOs, and two government departments. Original participating organisations felt that this was about the maximum that the process could handle. More participants would likely have led to further delays and a higher likelihood of not reaching consensus. There are arguments in the literature (e.g., Canadian Round Tables 1993) for inclusivity in consensus processes, even at the expense of numbers at the table. However, the Forum's Steering Committee felt that a measure of exclusivity, given the Forum's purpose and agreements among original members, was strongly warranted. A word about the exclusion of Aboriginal participants is given towards the end of the paper.

At the beginning of the Forum discussions, there was interest from some participants to go after the proverbial "low-hanging fruit", i.e., the easiest places to protect because they contain little merchantable timber. Both ENGOs and forest companies rejected this approach because it would not resolve the status of the most contentious areas, where logging was the biggest threat to wilderness. If the final Forum report did not have a strategy for protecting the best remaining wilderness sites in Nova Scotia, then the final report would ultimately be a failure, so this was a non-starter for ENGOs and forest companies alike.

When the landscape analysis for the Forum was carried out, however, it became clear that many high-priority sites to protect for conservation would also have relatively small impacts on wood supply. These sites were of both high value and low conflict. This included genuine "old forest" zones on public lands that were already under an administrative moratorium on timber harvesting, important rare-species habitat that also had existing constraints, and important ecosystems of low value to the forest industry such as salt marshes and offshore islands. The Forum grouped these high-value, low-conflict sites into a "first slate" of areas recommended for immediate protection, whose designation need not be delayed while details on wood-supply mitigation strategies for sites with lots of merchantable trees were worked out.

In most negotiations processes, there is a tendency for parties to want the process expedited to try to wrap things up without delay (see Canadian Round Tables 1993). This is only natural, as the indirect costs associated with the personnel time allocated and dedicated by the parties can be substantial, perhaps even enormous, when the process runs much longer than the parties initially expected. However, processes such as the Colin Stewart Forest Forum usually defy efficiency and early closure (Johnson and Duinker 1993). Time is of the essence in opposite directions-people need to get things done expeditiously so as to move on with life, but processes where people's views on visceral issues may need adjustment cannot be rushed (e.g., see Duinker et al. 1998). A key element of the Forum was taking the time to build trust and to come up with solutions that worked for all parties. Indeed, the literature (e.g., Canadian Round Tables 1993) also confirms the need for process flexibility to account for unexpected demands for more time. Considerable patience was required. This also enabled the Government of Nova Scotia to prepare to receive the final Forum report and to be ready to begin implementing some of its key recommendations. Voluntary interim moratoriums that the companies placed on several sites bought time to have necessary discussions, although some other sites were lost to logging during this time.

With multi-year processes such as the Forum, there is always an inherent risk of losing momentum and having active participation drop off (see Gilbert 2007). For the Forum, momentum was maintained in large part because key achievements were made along the way. That is, there were real tangible outcomes of the discussions before the final agreement was put in place. For instance, mid-way through the Forum process, the Government of Nova Scotia introduced legislation-the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act-requiring a significant expansion of the provincial system of protected areas, and advanced a number of key sites toward protection. It also publicly announced that the Forum report would form the basis of that expansion, and came up with CAD 27 million to acquire private lands for conservation from Bowater Mersey, one of the Forum partners. Also, mid-way through the Forum discussions, another Forum partner-StoraEnso Port Hawkesbury-decided to pursue Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for its forest operations. The Forum's work and input from its ENGO and government representatives helped to shape the company's high-conservation-value-forest assessment as part of that application. Key outcomes were achieved during the Forum process, and this helped maintain momentum to reach a final province-wide agreement with all the parties to the Forum.

To reach final agreements in complex negotiations, mutual accommodations are needed on all sides (Hansen 1995). At the Forum, this required an open and frank dialogue about conservation priorities, the economic realities of the forest industry, and the potential impact of lost wood supply from future protected areas. The realisation that there are true bottom lines for parties on both sides was important, as was the need to be flexible and to use creative thinking to overcome potential barriers to reaching an agreement. For some issues, the parties just could not agree, but that did not create a stalemate. There was common ground on many fronts and the Forum process chose to focus on those areas rather than on the areas where compromise was impossible. This ultimately helped achieve a final agreement that was palatable to all participants.

First Nations

First-Nations people in Nova Scotia were not part of the Steering Committee and therefore not participants in the Forum. Original Steering-Committee members debated the merits and demerits of such participation by First Nations, and decided to proceed with just ENGO, timber-company, and government participation. This decision rested on two considerations. First, Steering-Committee members felt that deliberations with the constellation of already engaged members would be difficult enough without expanding that constellation to include another group of individuals representing potentially alternative worldviews on land use and conservation.

The second consideration rests on the understanding that, across Canada, Aboriginal people have secured a special status in most decision-making processes regarding natural resources and the environment. Indeed, scholars and advocates alike have declared that Aboriginal people are "not just another stakeholder" (Stevenson and Webb 2003). In Nova Scotia, the provincial government, the Government of Canada, and the Mi'kmaq are engaged in a Tripartite Forum to address major issues of mutual concern. In addition, the Government of Nova Scotia routinely engages the Aboriginal people of the province in special consultations on all major decisions regarding natural resources and the environment. Steering-Committee members were confident that no protected area would be officially designated by the Government of Nova Scotia without having first consulted with the relevant First-Nations communities.

In this context, it is important to remember that the Forum was not a government-initiated process. It was initiated by ENGO and industry leaders to see if they could come to agreement on their specific interests associated with the completion of Nova Scotia's protected-areas network. Early in the process, it became clear that government technical support was needed to facilitate the Forum deliberations. To bring to the Government of Nova Scotia a set of protected-areas recommendations that represented a consensus among the major provincial ENGOs and the major timber-producing companies, the Steering Committee determined that its membership was both necessary and sufficient. To our knowledge, there were no negative consequences from this decision.

Dealing with divergence

The parties entered Forum negotiations with some key premises agreed to by all-that reaching a goal of 12% protection of land area in Nova Scotia was acceptable, and that expansion of the protected-areas network to reach 12% should not decrease the supply of softwood fibre utilised by the forest industry, nor increase the cost of wood delivered to mills. In relative terms, there was low divergence among the parties over the details of the scientific and technical means of identifying priority areas for protection. Greater divergence was experienced in the exploration of how to mitigate the timber-supply impacts of reaching the 12% target. ENGO negotiators were, understandably, extremely keen to explore the very widest array of mitigation options. Some of their proposals for mitigation actions were assessed by timber managers as overly optimistic and either unlikely to raise timber supply appreciably or likely to raise wood costs unacceptably. Others were accepted and recommended to government. In the end, each forestry company identified, in concept only, its preferred mitigation options for any ongoing negotiations with government when specific candidate protected areas would come up for formal protection following conclusion of the Forum process.

As these processes invariably go, there were also various tensions at the Steering Committee table. There were issues around what was originally agreed among the parties regarding timber-production deferrals on specific lands that companies had high on the operational queue but that ENGO representatives insisted were high-priority conservation lands. The same problem occurred in relation to side deals between certain companies and ENGOs to proceed with designations of specific protected areas well before the Forum discussions were concluded. Considerable Steering-Committee time was spent dealing with issues of representation at the table, the protracted nature of the process, membership on the Committee, wording of documents, and the like. Much energy was spent by facilitators and Committee members to keep the process going in a positive direction.


The Forum process was always focused on finding real and tangible final outcomes. This included both the legal protection of new protected areas and the implementation of mitigation options to lessen impacts on the forest companies. To achieve this, the Government of Nova Scotia was ultimately responsible to consider and implement the recommendations of the Forum report. Interim updates were provided to key decision-makers within government with clear recommendations focused on implementation. Some of these recommendations included moving new sites toward protection, coming up with immediate capital spending to acquire specific parcels of land, and developing longer-term strategies for mitigating impacts on the provincial wood supply and the flow of wood to the mills.

Since the Forum report was submitted in November 2009, the Government of Nova Scotia has implemented many of the key recommendations. CAD 75 million in capital spending was allocated to acquire 56,000 ha of private lands from the forest companies within four months after the report was submitted. The substantial majority of these lands were sites specifically recommended by the Forum. All parties expressed an interest in staying involved after the Forum process wrapped up and working collaboratively with the provincial government as it moves towards further implementation of the report's recommendations.

A word is in order regarding timber harvests and wood supply in the province. The mitigation measures discussed at the Forum were intended to maintain the potential future sustainable wood supply in the province, not the actual levels of timber harvested by the industry at the time. The desire to maintain the potential future wood supply was based on the notion that the then wood-using industry would persist in the future. As it turns out, there have been some significant reductions in wood-processing capacity, particularly pulp-and-paper capacity, in the past five years. Due largely to market conditions, actual total provincial timber harvests have fallen from over 6 million cu. m in 2005 to under 4 million cu. m in 2011 (data extracted from Canada's National Forestry Database). What this means for the Forum's outcomes is that-with ongoing designations of new protected areas-on the one hand, there is arguably less urgency to implement the mitigation measures now, at least province wide, than there was when the Forum started in earnest in 2005. On the other hand, new markets for energy wood have put new pressure on the immediately wood supply in the province.

   Conclusions Top

The Colin Stewart Forest Forum was successful in producing a consensus-based report (CSFF Steering Committee 2009) to the Government of Nova Scotia, complete with recommendations on both protection priorities and wood-supply mitigation. The parties stayed the course despite frequent tense moments. For several years since, they have been witnessing many of the report's recommendations being implemented by government. The NFA met its goal of assisting forest stakeholders in Nova Scotia in a collaborative search for progress in achieving sustainable forests in the province.

All parties to the Forum were aware that the report to government represents just a first, albeit vital, step in expanding the province's protected-areas network. In June 2011, the Province released a map of areas under consideration for new protected areas based upon the Forum's recommended sites (Nova Scotia Environment 2011a). The government launched a broad public and stakeholder review to help inform the selection of sites for designation to reach Nova Scotia's '12% by 2015' commitment (Nova Scotia Environment 2011b). Although much work remains, the Colin Stewart Forest Forum has provided the Government of Nova Scotia with a catalyst for expanding its protected areas system, resulting in the protection of high-priority areas with a suite of mitigation options to lessen potential impacts on the forest industry.

Our account of the inner workings of the Colin Stewart Forest Forum-the only such account yet produced for a broad readership-is not meant to represent a contribution to the theories of sustainable development, adaptive management, conflict resolution, or otherwise. It is an empirical confirmation that the framework offered by Lee (1993) has great practical potential and can serve as a useful lens for understanding how processes for advancing nature conservation can be successful. The proposition offered at the beginning of the paper still stands, as the Forum was a successful example of integrating science and politics for the environment (Lee 1993). We can therefore confidently reiterate the increasingly common advice when diverse people and organisations face highly contentious allocations of scarce environmental resources-in the decision-making process, whatever form it takes, be sure to include, indeed integrate, the science of adaptive management and the politics of bounded negotiation. Doing this does not guarantee success, but not doing so certainly biases for failure.[32]

   References Top

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