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Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association 


"Trees, how many of 'em do we need to look at?"


Ronald Reagan

Woodlot tour, tractor show on Saturday, July 20


The Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association will host a free woodlot tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at P & F Verstraten Farms, 5736 Hwy. 336, Lorneville, N.S.


The farm is about 32 km east of Amherst, or about 8 km north of Northport, on the Northumberland Strait.


The woodlot tour is part of the annual tractor and engine show sponsored by the North Shore Antique Tractor and Engine Club. Tractors, engines, and antique farm machinery will be on display. There will also be wagon rides, a 4-H woodsmen competition, a horseshoeing demonstration and antique tool displays, live music, and much more. Admission is free for all events. Civic groups will provide dinner and pie at a canteen on the grounds.


The Verstraten family has been involved in multi-age, multi-species forest management for many years. Their most recent project is the restoration of the farm woodlot. A trail system has been developed, and much time and effort spent in partial harvests, understory planting and thinning.


The tour will include demonstrations of small-scale and fully mechanized harvesting operations, sustainable firewood production, and silvicultural techniques designed to restore the native Acadian Forest.


Transportation from the show to the woodlot tour will be farm tractor and wagon, making the event easily accessible for all, including families. You'll also be able to have your woodlot questions answered by a NSWOOA forester, start or renew your membership in the organization, or sign up for an inexpensive woodlot site visit.

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Free field guide available on jewel beetles


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in conjunction with the University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Invasive Species Centre, has recently published the "Field Guide to the Jewel Beetles of Northeastern North America."


This 411-page field guide covers 164 jewel beetle species for northeastern North America (Manitoba and eastward) and includes 2 identification keys for the 23 genera in the region: one a technical key adapted from previously published works, and the other a "field key", designed for use with a hand lens or digital camera and which uses characters that are more easily observed.  Each species is fully illustrated with high magnification colour photos of the dorsal & ventral views, head and male genitalia (plus additional colour morphs or variations when available).  A review of taxonomic synonyms, ESC & ESA approved common names, and all known larval host plants is provided in addition to thorough morphological diagnoses, characters useful for differentiating similar species, and notes on species abundance, habitat preference and economic importance.


This guide is intended to assist municipal foresters, arborists, technicians, entomologists, woodlot owners and naturalists in recognizing specimens encountered in the field.


This book is available in both English and French.  The cost of the book and shipping is free.  To place an order, pleasephone 1-800-442-2342.    

Don't let your friends, family miss out!


There are a limited number of woodlot site visits still available through the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association. This is a fantastic opportunity for relatives, friends or neighbors who are interested in starting or resuming active management on their woodlots.  


With financial support from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, a forester from NSWOOA will visit 100 woodlots over the next five months to talk with owners about their forestland. The program is designed for owners who have a strong interest in the health of their woodlands and want to enhance the many values that forests provide, but have not participated in active management recently.


Farmers, maple sugar producers, blueberry and Christmas tree growers, hunters and anglers, bird watchers, hikers and those who simply enjoy the solitude that woodlands provide are invited to apply. Landowners with a minimum of 10 forested hectares (about 24 acres) are most likely to benefit.


We believe that landowners' own goals come first, so the visit will begin with a discussion of their reasons for owning the land, and their short- and long-term objectives. Then, staff forester Stephen Cole will walk the property (with the owner, if possible) to assess conditions on the ground and talk about what he sees.


Participants will receive:


* A written summary of opportunities in the woodlot that are consistent with the owner's own values, objectives, and goals;
* The most current aerial photograph of the land;
* An introductory membership in NSWOOA; and
* A list of other resources and service providers for forest landowners.


This visit would typically cost $200-250, but the provincial funding allows us to charge just $25. If you want more information about the project, please contact Stephen Cole at 902-309-1062 or

Summer 2013 

Part 2


Conclusions from the 2012 landowner outreach project


By Stephen Cole

NSWOOA Forester


With financial support from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association (NSWOOA) undertook a woodlot site visit project in 2012. In this, the second of a two-part series, we look at some conclusions that can be drawn from the project.




About 72% of all landowners visited during the project were over 50 years of age. The major of the rest were 40 to 50 years old. This brings up some interesting issues related to management.

Good forestry is a long-term venture. If a landowner pre-commercially thins his or her woodlot, the waiting period to merchantability is typically 15 to 20 years. A partial harvest aimed at removing poor-quality growing stock and improving the remainder will take 15 years before another entry is required. Sometimes, it takes two entries to yield measurable results.
Many of the older generation are wise enough to invest in improving their woodlots even though they are unlikely to see the full benefits of their labours. It almost makes more sense for forest improvement to be a young person's job, but very few young people own woodlots. Some work with their parents or grandparents on lots that will someday be theirs, but many do not. Good stewardship, and good public policy, would consider how to attract more young people to own or manage woodlots and learn from the experiences of the older generation.




The vast majority of woodlots we visited were less than 100 acres. This can represent a challenge in today's forest sector. Depending on the circumstance, most contractors want (as a rule of thumb) at least 20 acres (or 1000 cubic meters of wood) to cover the cost and time of moving in (often called floating) a machine. For many landowners, this could be a quarter or a half of the volume on their woodlots, and such heavy cutting may not be acceptable to them.


Good policy would help to increase the level of communication among neighboring woodlot owners, giving them an opportunity to find ways to work together and provide more options to a contractor. This will increase the number of lots that could feasibly be managed.




About a third of the woodlot owners visited during the project are already managing their woodlots for forestry-related objectives. Another third are interested in starting or returning to active management. The remaining third appear to be unlikely to engage in commercial harvesting, largely because their primary reason for owning forested land is recreation or personal consumption of firewood, maple syrup, or other products for home use.


Woodlot owners that we visited who are currently managing their land are not doing so for financial reasons. None of them relied on their woodlots to pay bills, and only some derived any amount of income from them. All had another source of money - a job or pension. Furthermore, none had recently purchased their woodlands. They had either owned them for a long time or inherited them.


The woodlot owners who were interested in returning to active management of their woodlots had several reasons for not doing so already. The most common were low stumpage prices and an inability to do the work themselves. If market conditions stay relatively good, a big issue for this group - as well as for the owners who were interested in beginning active management for the first time - will be finding contractors who can manage the way they want. 




The three most common objectives of woodlot owners visited during this project were:


1. Sustainably manage for the future (80%)

2. Periodically harvest timber (70%)

3. Perform silviculture (50%)


These percentages include both engaged and disengaged landowners. They are simply stated goals and are not necessarily being fulfilled. These results reinforce the notion that most landowners want to participate in forestry. Forty percent included improving forest health and/or bio-diversity in their list of goals and objectives. Other goals were recreation only, Christmas trees, and no specific goals at all.


The goals and objectives of many woodlot owners are forestry-related and could potentially lead them to start or continue active management, but landowners will only participate under their own terms.




The goals of the 2012 project were to reach out to landowners and interact with them to determine the status and needs of their woodlots. Some 50% of participants were already engaging in some management activities, and these individuals were encouraged and supported by informing them of markets, harvest techniques, and silviculture programs. [Note: These landowners received visits because they were having trouble implementing their plans or achieving their goals.]


Another 33% of landowners have become engaged because of the project, and have either sought out further professional guidance (23%) or are still searching for their next contact (10%). The remaining 17% were interested in knowing more about their woodlot, have been informed, and have made the decision not to participate in the forest sector at this time.




As mentioned previously, one significant factor that has discouraged many landowners is the sight of clear-cuts on lots near them or around the province. That was made very clear by landowners during the entire project. As a result, 82% of them expressed interests in alternatives to clear-cutting. This can mean a shelter-wood harvest, group retention, commercial thinning, or selection harvest.

In some cases where disease or wind have damaged a stand, or where the entire lot is in poor condition, some landowners are more willing to consider a salvage operation, which could include a clear-cut. Other landowners indicated that - even in this situation - they preferred to let it fall down on its own.


Since many landowners see clear-cutting as a barrier to practicing the kind of forestry they want to see on their own land, good policy would increase support for programs that move harvesting away from clear-cutting.






Of all the landowners visited, 82% of them were interested in accessing silviculture funding after the site visit. The most popular programs were: fill planting, pre-commercial thinning, commercial thinning, and all three Category 7 treatments. Landowners and contractors recognize that silviculture is a worthwhile investment and a way to improve the quality of the future forest. Most of the current programs are well received by woodlot owners, although there are many who have been unable to access them due to insufficient funds in some years.




Sixty-four percent of landowners expressed interest in having, maintaining, or updating a management plan. Approximately 23% of the landowners already had management plans. That means only 13% had no interest in a management plan whatsoever. This indicates that landowners recognize plans can be a significant, contributing document to the successful management of their property. Several of the landowners expressed interest in participating in some of the government-funded management plans and were given the appropriate contacts to do so.




The results of this project indicate that there are some common issues arising from the management of private woodlots in Nova Scotia. All landowners see their land as a valuable asset, regardless of its timber value. They recognize that forestry is about more than harvesting timber, and that things like management plans and silviculture are valuable tools.


Although approximately 50% of landowners were already engaged, this does not mean they are necessarily harvesting timber. Most landowners feel compelled to "look after" or "take care of" their woodlots. In a lot of cases, this means harvesting the poor quality trees in a manner that preserves the integrity of the woodlot and leaves the best timber on the stump to satisfy other values. The development of new industries where less-than-studwood-grade products are consumed at a true cost price of production would allow woodlot owners a chance to invest, manage, and consequently harvest their woodlots profitably and contribute to the forest sector.


The major barriers to having an engaged and active private sector were:


* There are no programs, tax incentives, etc., that encourage the purchase and responsible management of woodlots by a new generation of owners.

* There is a lack of small contractors. Most landowners do not want large machinery on their properties, and would not allow clear-cutting except in extreme cases.

* There are limited markets for less-than-studwood-grade products; most landowners want to leave healthy trees on the woodlot for future sale or to satisfy other values (aesthetics, bio-diversity, carbon sequestration).

* There are no permanent, stable funding mechanisms for silviculture, forest management, or woodlot owner support. Many current programs fluctuate year-to-year, making it difficult for owners to plan and use such program effectively.


Thank you for taking the time to read this report! If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me directly at 902-309-1062 or

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.