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Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association
December 2012
"The future depends
on what we do
in the present."

-- Mahatma Gandhi
It's your Legacy! 

This is the first issue of NSWOOA's updated newsletter, Legacy. We hope you find that it provides more of what you need to achieve your goals for owning or managing forestland in Nova Scotia.

We expect all of our members and friends to be able to quickly download and view the newsletter. If you have problems, please tell Andy Kekacs, the NSWOOA program director. He can be reached via e-mail at


We deliberately made the typeface larger on this newsletter. That's helpful for many readers, but it also increases the overall size of the publication, which could be an issue for those who like to print the newsletter before reading it. Is it too big? Let us know.

If your computer or Internet provider can't handle the graphics-rich version of the newsletter, we can send a text-only version. Use the link above to let us know if that's what you prefer.

We remain open to suggestions for improving the newsletter. Tell us was you'd like to see, and we'll do our best to provide it.

Happy holidays

There certainly were many challenges this year for forest landowners in Nova Scotia, and for those who earn their livings from the woods.

But here we are again, at the completion of another circle around the sun, and wiser for having made the trip.

There's little to be gained by looking back on the lost jobs, the lost markets, or the lost opportunities to do better in the forest.

Instead, we look forward to 2013, where many see the possibility for positive change. The establishment of community forests on former Bowater Mersey lands (see the lead article in this newsletter) suggests that the government may finally be willing to put the needs of the forest first. 

We hope so. As always, NSWOOA will offering praise (when deserved), criticism (when necessary), and suggestions for improvement (whether or not we are asked). 

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year from the directors and staff of NSWOOA!
2013 memberships

Memberships in NSWOOA run from 1 January through 31 December. Ready to renew? Looking for a great last-minute gift?

You'll find a membership application here.

Visit us on Facebook

If you're interested in the latest news about forestry, visit the association's new Facebook page. You'll find stories ranging from provincial political and regulatory developments to the latest in Canadian and international silvicultural research.

You can visit us at:
Province buys Bowater lands,
endorses community forests
Bowater Mersey lands
A months-long effort by the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association and its partners in "Buy Back the Mersey" was successful in early December, when the province announced that it would invest more than $100 million to buy 550,000 acres of former Bowater Mersey land. (For more, see this story in The Chronicle Herald.)

NSWOOA began to advocate for the purchase last July, sending letters to Premier Darrell Dexter, Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker, and every member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. A strong grassroots campaign endorsed by conservation and community groups throughout the province kept the issue on the front burner.

Support for the purchase was only part of NSWOOA's message to legislators, however. Even more important was our assertion that Nova Scotia should change the way it manages Crown land to foster a rebirth of the non-commodity wood products industry and, in the process, restore the native Acadia forest ecosystem. We believe that only by growing healthier forests can we build more resilient rural communities and create better economic conditions for woodlot owners.

It's possible that message was heard. While most of the media attention was focused on the buyout, the province also announced that it was accepting proposals to create and manage community forests on some or all of the land (more here). We support that idea -- in fact, NSWOOA's Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest division in Mooseland was the first community forest in the province.
We believe the real investment to be made on the former Bowater Mersey lands is in the woods. Growing high-quality trees of long-lived native species will help to reverse a steady decline in the health and value of the forest over the past 50 years, when we managed mostly on short rotations for pulp and studwood.

Is the government really willing to change? Only time will tell. There is no question, however, that we can do better. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.  The actions we take today become the legacy that we leave to them.
In search of vernal pools
  Vernal Pool
By John Brazner

Wetland Program Coordinator

Nova Scotia Environment 


Are you aware of any shallow, wetland pools on the woodlots near your home or near places you vacation, hike, hunt or walk the dog? If so, we'd love to hear from you!


Nova Scotia Environment launched a Vernal Pool Mapping and Monitoring Project this past spring. Our goal is to develop an inventory of vernal pools (commonly called "frog ponds") around the province to improve the conservation and understanding of these fragile and important habitats.


Vernal pools are small (usually less than half an acre), shallow wetlands (often knee deep or less) that lack permanent inlet or outlet streams and often dry out in the summer. They are usually located in or adjacent to wooded areas and provide critical breeding habitat for frogs, salamanders, insects and fairy shrimp that are adapted to seasonal drying. They also provide feeding and drinking sites for birds, mammals, turtles and other wildlife. If you've got a shallow pool on your property that is loud with peepers or wood frogs in the spring, you almost certainly have a vernal pool.


Dr. Ron Russell and several of his students from Saint Mary's University have surveyed hundreds of vernal pools around the province for amphibian presence to determine what it is that limits the distribution and abundance of these sensitive animals - things like chloride contamination and proximity to roads. However, we know very little about the overall distribution of vernal pools, the range of types present here, how many are being lost to development or what biological communities, habitat conditions or water cycles are typical.


So, there is much to be learned and we need your help!


To get this project started we are looking for volunteers to provide three kinds of basic information that will help us to begin characterizing distribution of types of vernal pools in Nova Scotia:


1) The geographic location (latitude and longitude) of any vernal pools you are aware of;

2) Some basic information on pool size, depth and period of flooding; and

3) A digital photo of your pool(s).


Details about collecting and submitting this information can be found on our website (


We will be asking for your help with more comprehensive monitoring of the biology of your vernal pools in the near future, but to get things rolling for those of you who are especially interested, we would appreciate it if you could report the presence of the key species that typify vernal pools in the spring. These are wood frogs, blue spotted salamanders, yellow spotted salamanders and fairy shrimp. Pictures of adults of each species are included on our data sheet ( to help with their identification.


Citizen scientists are providing invaluable information about the state of the environment all over Canada. Our Vernal Pool Project is no exception. We can't do this without you and really appreciate any help you can muster!


For more information please see our website ( or contact John Brazner ( or Krista Hilchey (  


Right and wrong

(Editor's Note: In his 1948 classic "A Sand County Almanac," pioneering conservationist Aldo Leopold said, "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." In this column, Bob Bancroft will comment on things that are right -- and wrong -- with Nova Scotia forestry.)


By Bob Bancroft


I've been asked to offer thoughts on ecosystem implications for forestry and changes in management practices that small woodland owners can make to ecologically stabilBob Bancroftize and 

improve land- and water-based ecosystems. The latter point is non-economic; potential economic benefits should accrue in the long term.  


Some basic realities "set the stage" for future columns:


1) A world with 7 billion people and no prospect of population regulation cannot maintain or attain the consumptive lifestyle we have in North America.


2) Violent changes as a result of exploitations of land (like clearcuts and agricultural land clearing near water) have destabilized the land.


3) The agricultural and forestry industries' willful focus upon (and simplification to) a few "commodity" species have created tremendous losses of species richness or diversity.


4) Resource over-consumption prevails worldwide and with it vast, untreated pollution.


5) Nature's inherent safety checks have been destabilized as a consequence of the first four points. The fallout includes increased rates of insect eruptions, flooding, and epidemics.  


6) Nutrient losses and soil abuse have become rampant.


7) "Industrialized" politics, policies and politicians are the norm.


8) Cheap energy wanes; while


9) Climate change is upon us.


Since 1975, I have been ecologically rejuvenating 56 acres of old-field disturbance forests and the silted, trampled waterways within that land base. I saw a chance to turn some tides of change on one small property. Succeeding columns will offer ecological thoughts and incentives to folks who wish to affect positive change. After 37 years, I still believe that individual actions can make a difference!


NSWOOA| PO Box 823, Truro, NS B2N 5G6 |
Truly sustainable forest management means that all values of our woodlands
-- ecological, social, cultural and economic -- are preserved for future generations.

Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.