NSWOOA Update 23: April 2009

Above, the late Dr. Wilfred Creighton made an appearance of sorts at the 2009 NSWOOA Annual General Meeting. Above, members and guests watch Honour in the Woods, a short documentary in which Dr. Creighton is interviewed.

In this issue
AGM highlights
Policy and practice for the NSWOOA Member input sought
Timber trespass
Ecosystem-based forest management
Buy Back Nova Scotia
More help for woodlot owners
More photos from the AGM
How to contact us

Hello Woodlot Owners!

We Get Questions

The question most frequently asked by new woodlot owners or those who have not previously been actively managing their lands is, “How do I get started on my woodlot?” The usual answer is to describe a process by which woodlot owners assess their objectives, the attributes of the property are described, a management plan is established and the required interventions are initiated.

The second most asked question usually appears before the answer to the first is completed: “Who can I get to do this for me?” That can be a harder question to answer. For some, this second question means Who can be hired to do this work? Which contractors are available, and who is reliable? Who can market the product? Some people are unable to do the work themselves.

For others the second question actually means that they are overwhelmed by the prospect of getting started. What these people sometimes need is to make contact with a neighbour or a friend who can be invited to come over and help them. A chainsaw course and a bit of mentoring may be enough to get going. You don’t need much, really, to start. It could be as simple as a chainsaw (and training), an ATV and a bit of nerve. The old saying is that a journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step. A well-managed woodlot can start with just the first tree and the decision the woodlot owner makes for that tree.

Some AGM highlights

The April 18 meeting in Old Barns was well attended and fast paced, and it covered a lot of ground. Here are but a few of the highlights.

Above, Wade Prest addresses the 2009 NSWOOA AGM on the topic of biomass

A cause for concern. In his report on the biomass issue, Wade Prest mentioned that at least one vision for biomass energy in Atlantica is for a centrally built massive plant for the three Maritime Provinces and Maine. The difficulty is that when there is a capital investment of hundreds of millions of dollars, those investing expect to see a competitive return on their investment. The forests of Nova Scotia and the other provinces will feel a great deal of pressure to generate these returns, and this could lead to bad practices and unsustainable harvesting. Too bad the investment of landowners and their fair return on investment do not hold as much sway.

Above, Patricia Amero (left) and Sandy Hyde (center) received a plaque made of FSC wood. NSWOOA Board Member George Johnson presented plaques to Patricia and Sandy, Flora Johnson, and Greg Amon for their contributions through the Uneven-Aged Management Outreach Project.

Achievements recognized. George Johnson, on behalf of the NSWOOA Board and members, presented plaques made of FSC wood for outstanding contribution to the forests of Nova Scotia. Patricia Amero and Sandy Hyde of Picea Forestry Consulting, Flora Johnson and Greg Amon were recognized for their contributions through the Uneven-Aged Management Outreach Project.

Right, George Johnson shows off one of the plaques awarded at the 2009 AGM.

Board changes. Retiring directors Greg Amon and Gerald Romsa were thanked for their service to the NSWOOA. They made significant contributions during their terms and will be greatly missed.

Above, new board members Stephen Harder, left, and Marc Chisholm, right.

New to the Board this year are Marc Chisholm and Stephen Harder. Thank you for offering your skills, knowledge, experience and energy to our organization.

Above, Sandy Hyde discusses ecosytem-based forest management

Ecosystem-Based Forest Management. Sandy Hyde gave a presentation on using ecosystem classifications to develop management plans for woodlots. He explained that much of this approach is what woodlot owners do automatically, because they develop a feel for the land and how it works, but now this is backed up by science. Sandy went over the resources available, and how they are applied. See Patricia Amero’s UAM Notes item below for more on Sandy’s presentation.

Above, Steven Harder discusses a way that woodlot owners could invest in and by paid for ecological services.

Valuing eco services of woodlots. Steven Harder went over a proposal to develop a plan whereby woodlot owners could invest in and be paid for ecological services such as water storage and carbon storage.

Wise words. The late Dr. Wilfred Creighton made an appearance of a sort, when several pieces of his advice were quoted at the meeting. Responding to a quote by one presenter, Sandy Hyde commented that Dr. Creighton had pointed out the short sightedness of managing forests according to the easiest way to harvest by saying: “The easiest way to pick apples is to cut down the apple tree.”

Above, NSWOOA Board Member Tony Phillips presented the meeting with an interim statement on forest policy for comment and discussion.

Policy and practice for the NSWOOA

During the AGM, Tony Phillips and Paul Brison reported on one committee’s attempts to better define who and what we are, and what we stand for. After explaining the purpose of the review and how we got to where we are now, they presented the meeting with an interim statement on policy for comment and discussion. After a bit of input at the scene, that statement reads:

The NSWOOA promotes and supports initiatives and practices that optimize the full range of values of the forests

These values include but are not limited to: economic, aesthetic and spiritual, recreational, carbon sequestration, water storage and filtration, community development, wildlife habitat, ecosystem protection, disease resistance, species and age diversity, etc.

The presenters stressed that this is intended as a working basis on which to make statements of policy on a whole range of issues, from biomass to plantations to acquisition of Irving lands in Digby County. However, member advice and input is now needed. Consider yourself officially consulted, and please give your opinions by phone or by email.

Above, NSWOOA Board Member Paul Brison presented a brief history of the NSWOOA.

Additional member input sought

NSWOOA Past President Tom Miller (shown in the photo at right) spoke at the AGM about several ongoing matters of concern: the acquisition of Wagner lands by the Redtail Society for community forest use, the Eastern Shore Forest Watch’s Honour in the Woods: and directory projects, the Bob Bancroft-Alice Reed lawsuit against two levels of government to have environmental protection laws enforced, and the continuing problem of trespass timber theft. He recommended monetary support. The last matter was referred to the board for appropriate action, but members present asked the board to actively seek member input and advice through email consultation and website postings.

For more information on the Redtail issue, see the Friends of Redtail Society website .

For more information on the film Honour in the Woods and how to order your own copy, see the Eastern Shore Forest Watch website.

For Tom Miller’s account of the Bob Bancroft-Alice Reed lawsuit, see this item at the NSWOOA website.

If you would like additional information on these issues, or to give direction and advice, call us at the number above, or email us your views.

Timber trespass

Members of the NSWOOA heard a story from Tom about a particular timber trespass in which an owner of a small woodlot of very good timber checked his lot one day to find that 90% of it had been harvested, despite having a well-marked and surveyed boundary line. The owner found that the law was reluctant to get involved and that typically the owner is awarded stumpage rates only.

If you have stories about timber trespass/theft, Tom would like to hear them. He has agreed to lead a group looking into how such cases are dealt with, what the options are and what we need to do to change things. If you have information for Tom, please send it to nswooa@gmail.com, or phone us.

Above, Patricia Amero and Sandy Hyde of Picea Forestry Consulting enjoy the presentations at the 2009 NSWOOA Annual General Meeting. Behind them is a display about their business. All members were invited to sell products and promote their businesses during the meeting.

UAM Notes: Ecosystem-Based Forest Management, Part 2
By Patricia Amero, RPF

At the NSWOOA Annual General Meeting on April 18, my partner Sandy Hyde gave a presentation on ecosystem-based forest management (EBFM). The following is a continuation of the item I wrote for the previous edition of the NSWOOA Update and a recap of Sandy’s presentation.

In the previous issue of the NSWOOA Update, I explained that in EBFM, forest managers aim to determine the natural ecological process that should be occurring on a particular site. We then try to protect these processes while also achieving landowner’s goals, which may include not only timber production but also conservation, recreation, aesthetics, and other resource values and benefits. As Sandy explained in his presentation to the NSWOOA AGM, the key principles of EBFM are:

  • Manage the natural forest
  • Mimic natural processes, including natural disturbances
  • Maintain multiple forest values, benefits and uses
  • Prescribe site-specific treatments
  • Focus efforts where they will yield the best returns
  • Improve the quality and value of individual trees over time
  • Avoid predictable hazards
  • Maintain and protect long-term site productivity
  • Maintain and protect ecosystem functions and health

Once we understand the ecological processes in a particular forest unit, we understand the full potential of this unit and also hazards associated with working in it. This enables us to manage for the natural forest while maintaining multiple forest values, long-term site productivity and most importantly ecosystem health. By tailoring harvest practices to reflect what naturally occurs in the forest—and making sure that activities are undertaken during the appropriate times of the year—we are able to avoid negative effects on the forest ecosystem. EBFM balances ecological, economic and social values within a particular woodlot.

In Nova Scotia our primary EBFM tools are the Ecological Land Classification (ELC) for Nova Scotia and the Forest Ecosystem Classification (FEC) manuals for various regions of the province, both of which are available from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.

The ELC divides the Acadian Forest Ecozone first into 9 main ecoregions. These ecoregions are differentiated primarily by elevation and proximity to the ocean. For example, the Valley and Central Lowlands Ecoregion essentially extends from Digby to Truro surrounding the Minas Basin. The distinguishing feature of this ecoregion, as outlined in the ELC manual (website:www.gov.ns.ca/natr/forestry/ecosystem/elcpg1.htm), is that the ecoregion is “sheltered from coastal climatic influences with warmer summer temperatures and milder winters than elsewhere in the province”. These conditions bring forth a unique combination of soil and vegetation types.

The ecoregions are further subdivided into ecodistricts as classified by distinct combinations of geology, landforms, soils and vegetation. There are a total of 40 ecodistricts in Nova Scotia. The Valley and Central Lowlands Ecoregion, for example, contains 3 ecodistricts: the Annapolis Valley Ecodistrict (extending from Digby to Canning), the Central Lowlands Ecodistrict (includes much of Hants County), and the Minas Lowlands (extending from east of Truro to Bass River).

A more detailed, localized way of classifying a forest or forest stand is by ecotype. Ecotypes are broad ecological groupings with similar moisture and nutrient regimes that are reflected in similar growth (productivity) capabilities. The FEC manual defines forest ecotypes according to their dominant soil and vegetation types. Ten different ecotypes have been identified in Nova Scotia, and each is associated with a specific group of soil types, vegetation types and site conditions.

Soil types are classified by moisture (wet, moist, fresh or dry), texture (coarse, medium, fine) and sometimes fertility (poor, medium, rich). Soil types can be easily identified in the field by digging a small soil pit and using the keys provided in the FEC manual to determine texture and type.

Vegetation types are described in terms of dominant overstory tree species cover and understory vegetation species. Vegetation communities and particular species can be used as indicators of site productivity. For instance, a ground vegetation mix of Red baneberry, Rose twisted stalk, Oak fern and Beaked hazelnut is an indicator of soil richness and a site that will support a shade-tolerant hardwood mix forest of Sugar maple, Yellow birch, White ash, and American beech. On the other hand, a ground vegetation mix of Cinnamon fern, Dwarf raspberry, Starflower, Sphagnum moss, False holly and Lambkill is suited to wet and poor-to-medium fertility sites, thus serves as an indicator of a site that will support a mainly coniferous forest of Red spruce, Black spruce, and Balsam fir with a mix of Red maple, White birch, Yellow birch, and White pine.

Once the ecotype of a site has been identified, the FEC manual provides management interpretations that address potential and operational hazards, including hazards associated with particular soil and vegetation types. Using the manual, the forest manager can develop appropriate prescriptions to ensure that activities on the ground are a success and not detrimental to the ecosystem.

Together, the ELC and the FEC provide a valuable perspective on a woodlot at the landscape and forest stand level, allowing the forest manager to fully understand ecological processes at play.

Selling the farm

There has been a strong public movement towards supporting Government purchase of Irving lands in the Digby Area. Buy Back Nova Scotia is a group that supports making this land into Crown land.

If this land sale follows the trend it'll be bought by a liquidating corporation, stripped of remaining timber, and gradually carved up into hundreds of fancy cottage lots for retiring baby-boomers with a lot of money. Especially on completely undeveloped lakes and miles of river frontage. Irving's real estate broker, Landvest (out of Portland, Maine) is really playing up the development potential of "large lots on unspoiled lakes" with "no encumbrances". Irving harvested some of these lands pretty hard, but it's still unsettled backcountry with mostly good productive forest land. A lot of it needs to heal/be restored through sane forestry. Historic public access for recreation and traditional uses is at stake here. (Contributed by Kermit DeGooyer.)

More help

We're happy to recommend another web resource for woodlot owners looking for ways to manage land without resorting to clearcutting. Forester Trish Amero, who coordinated the Uneven-Aged Management Outreach Project in 2008, has started a blog at http://trishameroblog.blogspot.com/.

Trish will be sharing some of the knowledge and experience she and partner Sandy Hyde have gained working with woodlot owners, including information on forest ecology, managements plans, and restoring your woodlot through selection harvesting.

More photos from the AGM

Above, Robin Barrett spoke about the Voluntary Planning process.

Above, NSWOOA Secretary Paul Brison presented the minutes of the 2008 NSWOOA AGM while NSWOOA President Lorne Burrows took notes.

Above, Kim Thompson from Eastern Shore Forest Watch introduced the film Honour in the Woods.

Above, NSWOOA Board Member Ken McRury reported on his participation in the Forest Technical Advisory Committee.

Above, Jamie Simpson introduced his new book Restoring the Acadian Forest, which was available for purchase at the meeting.

Above, Bill MacKay of Nagaya Forest Restoration (standing) discussed the difference between Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and other types of certification. Seated in front of him, from left to right, were Jamie Simpson, George Johnson, and Wade Prest.

Above, NSWOOA Board Member Barbara Gallagher read a report from Board Member Austin Parsons summarizing his involvement with two projects: the Association for Sustainable Forestry's Category 7 Committee and a program to certify woodlots to FSC standards.

Lines of communication

Members are encouraged to contact the Board of Directors, the Executive and other members through our email address or by phone (902-633-2108 or, for member services, 902-673-2278). 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 mailouts, our column in Atlantic Forestry Review, the Annual General Meeting, and this website.