NSWOOA Update 16: August/Sept. 2008

What Do You Do With...?

The long evenings of early July are conducive to social visits, but the social pleasantries were scarcely over when the neighbor from back on the hill brought up the topic of his woodlot. "Look," he said, "you've got a woodlot and there's grey birch on it. What do you do with grey birch?" The tone of his voice betrayed his sense of frustration. "I got five, maybe six acres of red spruce plantation from back in the 80s and it's being beaten up by grey birch that came into it. Some places where the plantation failed there's only grey birch; in other places it's growing up over the spruce and doing damage. What do you do with grey birch?"

"How big are they? You can always put some in the firewood you sell, or burn it yourself. There's a market for that sort of wood these days, but not at a high price and not too many cords of grey birch alone."

"No," he replied, and after a pause, "I don't think it's big enough to sell at any kind of a price. Most of it is the size of my wrist. But it takes so long to cut it. A cord can take all morning, and at that rate, maybe I should just let it lay on the ground. Or maybe let it stand and after a while…" He trailed off, uncertain what to do.

"You have much cut so far? Have you been working at it steady? Maybe grey birch is only a hobby thing. You work at it a half day now and then, and make wood where it is large enough, and lay it down otherwise. It doesn't pay to put other work aside in favor of releasing the planted spruce."

The neighbor tilted his head, reflecting, "This is the second time I cut these trees. Years ago I went through and cut down all the birch and laid it down. Thought I was done with it. Now I got a new hobby." He produced a smile with a twist of irony in it.

"Now," he said, "what do you do about a couple of acres of alders?"

If you have your own experiences, stories or advice on grey birch, email us.

NSWOOA Member Selected Winner

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources will hold a field day at the Mabou, Cape Breton, woodlot of NSWOOA member Neal Livingston on September 27. Neal won regional Woodlot Owner of the Year for the Eastern Region from NSDNR. Additional field days will be held in Maitland Bridge on September 13 (Western Region regional winner) and in Greenfield on October 4 (Central Region and Provincial winner). For more information on Neal's woodlot and all of the field days, see http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/extension/woya/2008.htm#east

Congratulations to Neal!

Also Scheduled in September

Demo International 2008, hosted by Ledwidge Lumber, is scheduled for the forests just east of the Halifax airport on September 18-20. This is a huge exhibition of forestry equipment and technology, both large scale and small scale, and will be of interest to all woodlot owners. It includes demonstrations as well as static displays. A few contests too. For more information, consult the July edition of Atlantic Forestry Review, or go to http://www.atlanticfarmer.com/ and follow the links to Demo 2008.

Voluntary Planning

On April 22, 2008, the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association made a presentation to the volunteer Natural Resources Citizen Engagement Committee (Voluntary Planning), which will be making recommendations for natural resources policy in Nova Scotia. We put forward a number of recommendations designed to improve the ecological health of Nova Scotia woodlots and increase economic choice among woodlot owners. For the full text of our presentation, please see the Voluntary Planning website, https://vp.gov.ns.ca/files/u4/2008_AGM_presentation_4_.pdf

Outreach Project

Outreach Coordinator Patricia Amero reports that the NSWOOA-Picea Forestry Uneven-Aged Management Outreach Project is progressing nicely. NSWOOA Member Services Coordinator Flora Johnson has the task of going through all the survey and workshop discussion results to begin preparing the written report. Meanwhile, Patricia and her partner, Sandy Hyde, have moved on to the individual woodlot half-day visits require by the project. According to Patricia, selecting the lots to be visited has been difficult, as there were many worthy woodlots to consider. The project will also hold a half-day woodlot seminar for contractors only, to be delivered in the early fall.

The Uneven-Aged Management Outreach Project is administered by the Association for Sustainable Forestry and is funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. NSWOOA is delivering the project in partnership with Picea.

Sad News

NSWOOA members are mourning the loss of former NSWOOA board member Pamela (Pam) Langille. Pam was a dedicated and effective worker on behalf of protection of the Acadian Forest and promotion of ecologically sound forest practices. Donations in Pam's memory can be sent to the Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association (Comp 10, Site 2 R.R.1, Head Jeddore, NS B0J 1P0). We extend our sympathies to her family and friends.

Grey Birch

(Excerpted from Jamie Simpson's book Restoring the Acadian Forest: A Guide for Woodlot Owners in the Maritimes, P41. The book is due to be published soon. Meanwhile Jamie is taking orders for the book at bocabec@gmail.com. The price will be $20, including shipping.)

[Grey Birch] grows on a wide variety of soils, from dry to poorly drained, and
often regenerates well on nutrient-deficient soils where other trees do not grow
well. However, it is the shortest lived tree in the Acadian Forest with an upper
lifespan of 50 years. With mature height of 11 meters (35 feet) it is also the
shortest tree in the Acadian Forest.

Because grey birch grows almost
exclusively on recently disturbed ground where sometimes other trees cannot
survive, it plays an important role in re-vegetating sites, capturing nutrients
and stabilizing the soil. Being short in height, and longevity, and very
intolerant of shade, grey birch is quickly succeeded by other species; stands
can be thinned and under-planted with shade tolerant species.

Lines of Communication

Members are encouraged to contact the Board of Directors, the Executive and other members through our email address (nswooa@gmail.com) or by phone (902-633-2108 or, for member services, 902-673-3009). Please feel free to use these methods to keep us informed of what is going on in your woodlot or in your community or area. We try to keep you informed through these updates, newsletters and mail outs, our column in Atlantic Forestry Review, the Annual General Meeting, and this website.