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Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association 



"The forest has shrunk
and fear has expanded..."
-- Visar Zhiti
Field day set
for 28 Feb. 
Are you going a bit shack-wacky? We've got the antidote!

The next Woodland Owner Mentorship Program field day is planned for Saturday, Feb. 28, at Pat and Janet O'Toole's farm in Carrolls Corner, Halifax County. The event was planned by the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners, which is one of our partners in the program, along with Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute.

The 2012 provincial Woodlot Owners of the Year, Pat and Janet practice a variety of selection management techniques on their CSA-certified woodlot. The couple harvests and sells spruce and hemlock sawlogs to local mills, and harvests firewood for their own use.

They also manage 1,200 taps in their red-maple syrup operation. With luck, we'll catch the beginning of the sap run and participants will be able to sample Pat and Janet's red maple syrup, which is darker (and some people say more flavorful) than syrup from sugar maples.

Pat O'Toole

The mentorship program is meant for owners of small woodlands who have an interest in increasing their skills and knowledge. It creates opportunities for forest landowners to learn from each other, provides places for experienced woodlot owners to share their knowledge, and reinforces information provided in the Department of Natural Resource's Woodlot Management Home Study Program.

Information about the home study program can be found at Ideally, participants will complete one or more modules before traveling to a mentor's woodlot to see and talk about real-world examples of the information that was covered.

The weather is always unpredictable at this time of year, so the date for the O'Tooles' field day is subject to change. Call the federation at 902-639-2041 to register and confirm details about the event.
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If you're interested in the latest news about forestry, visit the association's Facebook page. You'll find stories ranging from regulatory changes and political developments to the latest in Canadian and international silvicultural research. Just click on the icon below:


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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.


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





January 2015
Formal conservation options
for woodlot owners
By Clare Robinson

Many woodlot owners who are good stewards of their land wonder how to ensure that future landowners care for it in the same way. A legal tool called a working forest easement has recently become an option in Nova Scotia. Unlike a "forever wild" easement, which is common here, a working forest easement permanently protects woodlots from development and poor logging practices, while still allowing forestry.

A future issue of Legacy will explore how working forest easements became so popular in New England over the past 30 years, and look at the potential for this tool in Nova Scotia.  In the meantime, let's review other options for owners who want to want to protect their forestland from development.


Nova Scotians are interested in conserving their land for a whole host of reasons. Many are driven by their desire to continue to enjoy the wild and natural environment, while others want to protect rare natural features. Some want to ensure their descendants experience the land as they did. Landowners are also motivated to protect their property because of potential tax breaks.

Whatever the inspiration, several options and incentives exist, whether you wish to continue owning your land or are ready to sell or donate it. First, let's look at conservation opportunities for those who wish to maintain ownership.

A conservation easement allows you to protect your land, and benefit from potential tax breaks, while maintaining ownership and some rights to use your property. It is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust. Land restrictions specified in the easement are registered with the property deed and bind future landowners.

The organization that holds the easement monitors the property to ensure it is cared for according to your wishes. It can apply to your entire property, or only the portion with important natural features. You can continue to enjoy the land subject to the agreed upon restrictions.

Lake frontage on the Hemlock Hill property (all photos courtesy of Nova Scotia Nature Trust)

Financial incentives can be significant. In the short term, you may receive a tax receipt for the value of the easement, and this could lower your income tax or the tax owed by heirs. Since 2004, lands under a conservation easement in Nova Scotia are exempt from property tax.

With the landowner's consent, properties with outstanding conservation value may also be protected under a Provincial government designation, such as a Wilderness Area or Nature Reserve. These also benefit from government monitoring and enforcement. They, too, are exempt from property tax.

If you no longer wish to own your property, but want to ensure ecological features remain protected, you can donate or sell your property to a land trust. Donating the land or selling it below market value, with the balance considered a donation (called a "split receipt"), may provide you with an income tax break or reduce capital gains taxes where the value of your land has increased significantly.

Pursuing these options with a reserved life estate provides the tax break at the time of the sale or donation, and you and your children can live out your lives there. You can also donate your property to a land trust after death through a bequest.

According to Alice Morgan, land stewardship coordinator with the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, land trusts can provide flexibility to landowners wishing to protect all or a portion of their land. Conservation easements give landowners the option to protect that portion of their property with the highest conservation value while retaining ownership of the entire lot. In other cases, landowners have subdivided their land and donated or sold the parcel with high conservation value to a land trust.

"Often we work with landowners who have a home or cottage on a lot that has ecologically significant lake or river frontage, or a large stand of old growth forest," said Morgan. "They want to continue to use the dwelling and protect the natural features. By working with us they can parcel off the dwelling either through the terms of a conservation easement or through subdividing the land and protect the surrounding natural features."

Old growth hemlock canopy at Hemlock Hill

Morgan adds that, although they wish they could protect all the land that is offered to them, they must focus on the most ecologically significant sites.

Deep Brook Bog Conservation Lands is a 12 acre wetland site the NSNT purchased in the Pleasant River Watershed, in Queens County. It is a critically important habitat for endangered Blanding's turtles. In this case, the landowner subdivided the bog from the rest of his property, where he farms and manages the forest.

Less than 0.01% of old growth forest remains in Nova Scotia, and recently the Nature Trust acquired Hemlock Hill, a 133-acre old growth forest property on the St. Mary's River. Treasured by paddlers, birders, anglers and local residents, it has over four kilometres of undisturbed river shoreline and is home to nationally endangered birds and turtles. The purchase of this $260,000 property was made possible through an ongoing fundraising campaign.

For more information about protecting significant natural areas on private land, contact the Nova Scotia Nature Trust (902-425-5263, or the Nature Conservancy of Canada (902-405-4334, The Nature Trust's website provides a wealth of information on the conservation options outlined above.
Think about your goals, win a Husqvarna 550XPG chainsaw 
The new NSWOOA goals assessment tool is attracting a lot of attention from forest landowners. If you haven't tried it yourself -- or told your family and friends about it -- now is the time!

As an incentive to try the goals assessment, every landowner who completes it (and provides contact information) will be entered into a drawing to receive a Husqvarna 550 XPG chainsaw, with a retail value of $810.

The saw was donated by M-C Power Equipment of Truro, or (902) 895-2400. We're grateful to Husqvarna and M-C Power Equipment for their support of good forestry in Nova Scotia!

So, if you haven't used the tool yet, please do! Just click here to visit our website, then follow the link to the goals assessment. If you like it -- and we suspect that you will -- please tell other landowners to visit and check it out. 

They'll discover a fun and easy tool that can start them on a lifetime journey to restore and conserve the native forests of Nova Scotia.
NSWOOA| PO Box 823, Truro, NS B2N 5G6 |