Minister Encourages Participation in Voluntary Planning Process
How can government better manage the environmental, business and recreational benefits of Nova Scotia’s forest and mineral resources? How can wildlife be better incorporated in our plans for urban development? Can Nova Scotia’s provincial parks do a better job satisfying tourists and locals? These are the kinds of tough questions that are expected to be discussed when public consultations begin in January about the province’s natural resources. “We need to seriously weigh options and fully discuss the long-term ramifications of all the possible directions that government might take when it comes to management of our natural resources,” Natural Resources Minister David Morse said today, Sept. 13. Mr. Morse said the strategy development is part of government’s overall path to build a strong, competitive economy while working to ensure the sustainability of our natural assets. But, he said, all Nova Scotians play a critical role. “That is why I am so pleased to see that Voluntary Planning has taken the first step in its independent public assessment process by advertising for volunteers for the project committee.” The Department of Natural Resources announced in May that Voluntary Planning would lead a full year of independent consultations on the province’s minerals, forests, provincial parks, and on the interaction among and within plant and animal species in our ecosystem (biodiversity). In a news release on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and in newspaper advertisements, Voluntary Planning announced that it is seeking volunteers for the committee that will oversee that online and community consultation process. The deadline for applications is Oct. 1. The Voluntary Planning consultations are phase one in a three-part plan being used by the Department of Natural Resources to develop a new long-term strategy for minerals, forests, provincial parks and biodiversity. In phase two, a panel of independent experts will conduct more detailed analysis of the findings identified by the Voluntary Planning project committee through the consultation process. Phase three will be development of the long-term strategy itself using the various inputs from the two first years. “This first phase is crucial. It will identify the foundation on which we can build a better plan. That is why we asked Voluntary Planning to lead the consultation process, so it is completely open to all perspectives,” said Mr. Morse. “I just want to emphasize how important it is that anyone with an interest in the future of this province’s natural resources be ready to participate, either now, by volunteering for the project committee, or later, by providing their input during consultations.” For information on the Voluntary Planing project committee see the website at www.gov.ns.ca/vp .