We are Nova Scotians who care deeply about our province, our forests, and our communities. We are the 36,000 Nova Scotians who own small and large woodlots. We are 10,000 owners and workers of forestry businesses in Nova Scotia. We are the supporters of the forestry sector who supply them with goods and services. We are Nova Scotians who are proud of our heritage, our rural way of life and the sustainable use of our renewable natural resources embodied in forestry.

We work in the forests everyday. They sustain us and we work hard to sustain them. Forests need to be nurtured.

We nurture our forests every single day, we practice ecological forestry, We look after our land. We grow trees. We tend to them as they grow and when they are mature, we harvest them and start the process all over again. Forestry is a renewable and sustainable sector. Forestry was local before local was cool and renewable before renewable was trendy. Forestry is one of Nova Scotia’s most durable and impactful sectors.

We have come together to support the transformation of the Northern Pulp mill in Pictou County.
Northern is prepared to transform its mill into one the cleanest in the world. We support them. Our forests and forestry need a central pulp mill otherwise the economics of ecological forestry would collapse.

The Friends of a New Northern Pulp welcome any Nova Scotian that supports the establishment of a clean, modernized Northern Pulp mill to join us. Our founding Steering Committee includes;

Robin Wilber, Elmsdale Lumber
Peter Spicer, Seven Gulches Forestry
Ryan Scott, Scott & Stewart Forestry
Andy MacGregor, McGregor’s Industrial Group
Earle Miller, Woodlot Owner

Forest Products Produced from a Softwood Tree


Many people wonder if pulp mills are still needed. Activists will say that pulp mills are relics of a bygone era. They are dead wrong. Just look around your own home. Many of the products you use everyday and rely on are made from pulp. Tissues, toilet paper, newspapers, disposable diapers, writing paper, cardboard and even some of our food products are made from wood pulp. So, the answer is YES. Nova Scotians use pulp products and Nova Scotia needs a pulp mill.  

Healthy forests and ecological forestry also need a pulp mill. Generally, a little over half (51%) of harvested trees end up at a pulp mill. Not all trees or not all parts of a tree are suitable for high value lumber. Having access to a pulp mill is the best economic value for some wood fibre. Without a local market for pulp grade wood (small diameter thinnings, sawmill wood chips, etc.), it is left on the forest floor and there is not enough revenue to pay for work in the woodlot. If forests are ignored, they become over mature and susceptible to disease, infestations, forest fires and blowdowns. Leaving lower quality wood on the forest floor also makes tree planting, silviculture and other forestry management practices more difficult. The best and highest use of the forest resource is to achieve the most value of the resource at all stages. Pulp is an essential part of ecological forestry.


The Northern Pulp Mill is located in Pictou County in central Nova Scotia and easily accessible by our major roads. This is important because the cost of transporting bulky wood fibre requires a centrally located mill. There are pulp mills in Maine and New Brunswick, but trucking pulp grade wood there just isn’t viable. 10 years ago, Nova Scotia had three pulp mills -Liverpool, Port Hawkesbury, Pictou. 

Now just the Port Hawkesbury mill is operating and only at half its original capacity. This means all the pulp grade wood from central and western Nova Scotia doesn’t have an economic market so the critical revenue it provided to woodlot owners and sawmills is no longer there. The sector can not be sustained, and ecological forestry can not happen without a centrally located pulp mill. 

The sector can not be sustained, and ecological forestry can not happen without a centrally located pulp mill.


Paper Excellence, the owner of the Northern Pulp mill, is proposing to transform the Mill into one of the world’s cleanest modern mills. They will build a total, brand new Effluent Treatment System on site that includes Primary, Secondary and for the 1st time in Canada, a year-round Tertiary Treatment system to treat the effluent to the highest standard. The new mill will use less water, less chemicals, produce less carbon and have no odour in normal operating conditions. The transformation will cost over $350 million dollars.

The Mill has also committed to improving its place and relationships in the local community. The Mill has established an independent and a permanent community liaison committee and will provide public real time monitoring dashboard, independent 3rd party environmental auditing and a commitment to procure local supplies and workers while supporting the local community.


Every Nova Scotian should care about the proposed transformation of Northern Pulp. Many of the Friends of Northern are already involved in forestry so they understand the importance of having a local market for pulp grade wood.

The effect of the Northern Pulp closure on their work, woodlot or business has been real and many haven’t survived.

The pandemic and resulting increase in lumber prices has sustained some in the sector but lumber prices are returning to normal and a pulp mill is needed to maintain and grow the workforce. Just like a farmer or fisher, foresters need a market for what they produce. 51% of the wood harvested ends up in a pulp mill. Northern Pulp paid a fair price for that pulp. The transformation will create a market for that pulp again and do so in a clean mill we can all be proud of.

Even if you aren’t directly involved in forestry, the sector impacts you and your community.


  • Nova Scotia’s land mass is 75% forested. 
  • Forests need to be nurtured to remain healthy.  
  • Local wood products are a natural and renewable resource that Nova Scotians have relied on for centuries.
  • Harvested wood is initially destined to either a sawmill or a pulp mill. Both types of mills are essential for a functioning forestry economy.
  • Most of the wood products consumers use are made from pulp. (Cardboards, tissues, paper, food additives,)
  • Although people think of lumber (2×4’s, plywood) as the core items from forests, produced lumber represents only about 1/3 of the volume of a harvested tree. 
  • Over half (51%) of all tree fiber ends up in a pulp mill. (Small diameter wood, sawmill wood chips)
  • Without a pulp market, much value is left on the forest floor as waste and a risk for fire and pest infestations.
  • Previously, all of that pulp wood was a valued product that added revenue for woodlot owners and sawmills when Northern Pulp was operating. Forestry contractors and secondary industries also benefited.  
  • Healthy forestry practices demand we use all of the resource and not waste anything. 
  • You wouldn’t grow pigs just for bacon or beef just for steaks or chicken just for breasts. Instead, there are markets for hamburger, roasts, wings, thighs, sausages, etc. This means the total resource is used, making it economical for all buyers and ethical for a responsible farmer. Pulp is an essential part of forestry.
  • The cost of transportation matters. NP is centrally located allowing wood product from all over the province to be purchased.  It’s simply not economical to truck pulp to mills in other places. Basically, there is an economic radius that makes sense to ship product. For the forestry activity in central and western NS there isn’t a place now to send pulp grade fiber.

A new Northern Pulp mill makes ecological
forestry possible and viable.


Ecological forestry is the future of forestry in Nova Scotia. The government has implemented the policy on Crown land as part of the Lahey report recommendations for the sector. The Lahey Report provided a 3- prong plan for the Province to manage its Crown Land. Basically, Crown Land will be designated based on its best uses with approx. 33% designated as conservation lands to be permanently protected, 50% designated for multiple uses in an ecological matrix including light touch forestry and approximately 17% designated for high production forestry on land suitable to produce wood.

Ecological forestry means that forests are constantly interacted with to ensure a variety of tree species and ages that support greater biodiversity are present. Every time a worker enters a forest to work, it costs money. Being able to sell the pulp grade wood that is often the by-product of that work pays for the ecological forestry. Who will pay for ecological forestry if there is no market? Government? Woodlot Owners? The simple truth is the important work of ecological forestry cannot happen without funding and will not happen without a market for the products produced. Why would any Nova Scotian want the forestry sector to be subsidized when we have a private sector solution available?

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Common Questions


Yes, there is lots of wood fiber in Nova Scotia. Over 75% of our land is forests and more than half of our forests are at the mature or over-mature stage. More trees die naturally than are harvested in Nova Scotia. In the last decade, our net total forest fiber has grown by 15%.

Why not let the trees grow so they can all be made into lumber??

Trees won’t all grow tall and straight. There are crooked ones, many trees grow too close together and need to be thinned to make room for the tree that will grow tall and straight. When a forester nurtures a woodlot, they remove the undesirable trees to make room for the others to grow. It is that byproduct that feeds a pulp mill and makes the woodlot stronger.

Even with a premium tree that is harvested for lumber, there is a lot of pulp byproduct in that tree.

Trees are round and generally lumber is rectangular or square, so wood chips and bark are about 30% of the premium tree and this provides important revenue for the sawmill operator if they have a pulp mill to sell it too or it becomes a cost to dispose of if they can’t sell it which is a huge difference.

Will clearcutting continue?

Clearcutting has been reduced from about 80% of all Crown land operations five years ago to 38% today. With Lahey fully implemented, clearcutting is expected to about 20% of harvests on Crown land. Sometimes, clearcuts are the preferred ecological treatment because of the condition of the woodlot. For example, a fully mature stand should be harvested all at once. As well, an area that has experienced infestations or has significant blowdowns selective harvesting isn’t safe, possible or prudent.

Northern Pulp failed to get an environmental approval last time. Maybe they just aren’t up to it?

We think the new, bold Northern Pulp plans are just what forestry needs and the right solution for the pulp mill. It’s comprehensive and makes the mill into one of the cleanest in the world.

Last time, Northern Pulp was forced to act in a rush to replace an Effluent Treatment Facility (ETF) in under five years. The ETF Northern Pulp was using and all the previous owners used was owned by the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government wanted it closed. So Northern Pulp focused on a plan to replace the ETF as fast as possible. The proposed solution was a standard Canadian pulp mill solution that is approved and operating all across Canada. It wasn’t acceptable to the community and the Province so it didn’t receive the environmental approvals.

In that process, Northern Pulp learned a lot. Neighbours and residents of Pictou were concerned about more than just the Effluent Treatment Facility and the original proposal was too narrow. The New plan addresses all of the concerns expressed by the community including effluent treatment, odour, air quality, water use, and forestry operations.

This New plan is for a total transformation of the existing pulp mill. The province has just announced a Class II Environmental Assessment will be undertaken for the mill. This is an even more rigorous process than the last Environmental Assessment process. This is good. The process will analyze the mill’s plans and provide Nova Scotians with the confidence those plans are environmentally sound.

Why would the forest industry support a company such as Northern Pulp?

For people involved in forestry, Northern Pulp is a very good company to deal with. They pay fair prices for the pulp fiber, they buy most types of fiber and they were easy to do business with. Northern Pulp is an essential anchor for Nova Scotia’s forestry sector. Although the new mill will be the same size, with different equipment it will be able to purchase even more previously underutilized species than before.

The plan involves releasing treated effluent directly into Pictou Harbour. Do you support that?

The New Northern Plan involves fully treating the effluent in a tertiary treatment system – the first in Canada. This means the treated water will look and be like the rest of the water in Pictou Harbour. Obviously, independent studies need to be done to confirm the quality of the effluent and confirm that it will not harm the environment. The environmental assessment process will look closely at the effluent treatment system, and we should wait for the results of that process. In the meantime, we know there are municipal wastewater system currently releasing their treated effluent into Pictou Harbour.