Ecological Forestry and the Triad in Nova Scotia: Implications for Hardwood Management


  • James Steenberg Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables


ecological forestry, Triad Forestry, hardwood management, Nova Scotia


A recent independent review of forest practices has led to several broad changes to Nova Scotia’s Forest sector. A cornerstone of the review’s recommendations is to implement ecological forestry on Crown land that prioritizes biodiversity and leverages the Triad model of functional zoning. The Triad has three zones for the forested land base. The conservation zone excludes all forestry activities and focuses on biodiversity only. The high production zone includes intensively managed softwood plantations with a focus on fibre production. The much larger and surrounding ecological matrix zone balances uneven-aged silviculture with biodiversity values. A corresponding Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix was published and is required in the ecological matrix. The guide heavily favours uneven-aged silvicultural treatments such as selection management, shelterwoods, and irregular shelterwoods with the long-term objective of ecosystem restoration. The guide’s strong emphasis on restoring long-lived, intermediate-to-tolerant species (e.g., sugar maple, yellow birch, white ash, red oak), as well as growing stock quality, has many implications for hardwood management. Opportunities and challenges for hardwood management are discussed in the context of these recent changes. This discussion is then empirically grounded with the findings of hardwood silvicultural research trials that have been conducted for over forty years. As a province in the Acadian Forest Region with a diversity of hardwood tree species and ecosystems, Nova Scotia has several opportunities for hardwood management that must be discussed in the context of both the changing sector and the changing climate.

Author Biography

James Steenberg, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables

James Steenberg is a Senior Research and Planning Forester with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, where he is responsible for the Department’s research on silviculture, climate change, and forest carbon. He has a PhD in environmental science and is an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University's School for Resource and Environmental Studies, where he teaches and recently completed a Killam Postdoctoral Fellowship. He was also a Fulbright scholar at the United States Forest Service. James has 15 years of research experience as a government scientist, consultant, and academic researcher focusing on forests.