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Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association 



"If you really want to eat, keep climbing. The fruits are on the top of the tree. Stretch your hands and keep stretching them. Success is on the top, keep going."

You're invited!

Important meeting on forest industry
in Pictou County
The Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association invites you to attend a public meeting on the future of the forest and communities in Pictou County.

Join us for an open discussion from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.

Among the questions we'll be considering:

How are we affected by the current state of the Northern Pulp mill?

What is the cost of maintaining the current path of forestry in this province?

Is there a new vision that we can build together?

For too long, we have been told that we have to choose between jobs and the environment, to pick sides, to turn against each other. The reality is more complex, and these challenges are beyond the ability of any of us to address on our own.

Only by really hearing each other can we come up with solutions that move the region, and the province, forward. It is time to start that conversation.

The Pictou County Wellness Centre is at 2756 Westville Rd, New Glasgow. Click here for a map:

This is an important meeting for Pictou County, and for all of Nova Scotia. Please tell your friends and neighbors about it by forwarding this newsletter to them, or sending them a link to the article on our website or Facebook page.

We hope to see you there!

Will Martin, Chairperson
for the NSWOOA
Board of Directors
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Do you have questions
about good forestry?

NSWOOA is committed to being your best source for information about sustainable forestry. We do not offer silviculture or harvesting services; our interest is only in the protection and enhancement of the native forest ecosystems of Nova Scotia.


Truly sustainable management requires that all the values of our woodlands -- ecological, social, and economic -- be preserved for future generations. That's a complex undertaking.


Current forest conditions, markets, soils, an owner's personal goals, tax planning and many other factors influence which activities should be considered in any stand of trees.


If you have questions about sustainable management of the Acadian Forest, we want to hear from you! Give us a call at:




August 2014
Deadwood: The life of the forest 
By Matt Miller
Vice-chairperson, NSWOOA

Over the course of his forestry career, my father -- a forest technician, silviculture and harvesting contractor, and woodlot owner -- has come full circle in his approach to dead and dying trees. He once considered deadwood a nuisance, but now he sees it as an essential component of a healthy forest ecosystem.

A graduate of the Maritime Forest Ranger School in 1976, Dad began his career in silviculture as an early proponent of the industrial, agro-forestry approach of the day. Forests then were managed almost exclusively for softwood fibre production. Trees were "farmed" on short rotations, and deadwood -- in the form of logging debris, and standing and fallen dead trees -- was seen as a nuisance, even a threat to the next softwood "crop."

On a site on our family woodlot that today hosts a 30-year-old Norway spruce plantation, Dad recalls piling and burning the tops, branches and fallen dead trees that remained after harvesting to make tree planting easier. As a youngster, I remember dragging pruned branches to be burned in order to leave behind a "tidy" forest floor, free of any brush.

During a long series of federal-provincial subsidy agreements that supported early industrial forestry expansion, one publicly funded silviculture treatment was specifically aimed at removing deadwood; small crews were sent meandering through recent clearcuts to cut down "rampikes" -- a term then used to describe standing dead trees. This was done to make it safer for a helicopter to spray herbicide to knock back any naturally occurring hardwood regrowth interfering with industry-favoured softwood seedlings.
My Dad's aesthetic view of forests did not include deadwood, either. Dad preferred a "clean" forest -- one clear of dead trees and untidy brush strewn haphazardly about, favouring instead a more park-like setting with evenly spaced trees and even, vertical lines that some say appeal to the human eye. Perhaps the appeal of this park-like setting is linked to our ancestral instincts, to a time when such a forest setting gave our ancestors the best chance to see and avoid predators.

At least one-quarter of wildlife species in the Acadian Forest -- including this back-backed woodpecker -- depend on woody debris or dead or dying trees for habitat.
(Photo courtesy of Mark Elderkin)

Over time, Dad's industrial approach gradually gave way to a more holistic view of forests and forest management. He began to see dead trees as important sources of soil nutrients, as food, and as habitat for a huge variety of wildlife. In areas of our family's land where we once removed deadwood, we now actively restore it to more natural levels. His own shift is indicative of a larger movement towards a more balanced approach to forest management, including the importance of managing for deadwood.
No such thing as "waste wood"

Deadwood has long been considered as "waste wood" with no true value. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. Deadwood is the life of a forest, and reducing levels of deadwood in forests can reduce soil nutrients, soil organic matter, forest productivity, wildlife habitat and forest carbon storage.

Many wildlife species that call the forest home need deadwood. At least one-quarter of wildlife species in the Acadian Forest depend on woody debris or dead or dying trees for habitat. Harvesting dead and decaying wood to feed bio-energy markets caused the decline of numerous endangered species in Europe. Species associated with deadwood now make up the largest group of threatened species there; Sweden alone has 800 species that depend on deadwood on their Red List of threatened and endangered species.
In Nova Scotia, threats to deadwood are mounting as the province's biomass energy industry expands. Feeding the Point Tupper biomass plant has driven forest harvesting practices to new lows by driving market demand for biomass-grade fibre to new heights. Europe is hungry for Canadian wood fibre as well, with demand for biomass expected to continue to grow.

There is more life in a "dead" tree than in a living one. (Photo courtesy of Mark Elderkin)

The province needs to develop a comprehensive suite of tools to prohibit the removal of tops and branches during timber harvesting, and to ensure that forests have adequate amounts of standing and fallen dead and decaying wood. The Government of Nova Scotia has been poised to take steps to address this problem for three years, but no concrete steps have been taken.
Leaving behind enough deadwood doesn't cost a lot -- especially given the paltry price offered for biomass-grade wood -- and the pay-off for landowners and forest managers is increased forest ecosystem stability and resiliency.
Like many woodlot owners, one of my Dad's main goals for his woodlot is to leave behind a forest that is healthier than when he began. With more productive soils, and more diverse and abundant wildlife, his woodlot legacy has certainly benefited from his new approach to deadwood.

(Editor's note: Matt Miller is part of the Wildland Writers. Beginning this month, Legacy will feature forestry-oriented articles from members of the group -- both new work and reprints from other publications. This piece originally appeared in The Chronicle Herald of Halifax.)
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 2014. All Rights Reserved.