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Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association 



"Man can only feel the forest when the forest cannot feel man."
-- gonzobilly
Out and about

AGM, Summit
Did you ever have a month in which you were too busy to stop and talk about what you were doing?

That sums up the last four weeks for the association's directors and staff.

The period began April 25 with NSWOOA's 2015 Annual General Meeting, which was held in Great Village. Good attendance, a great program and a fine lunch -- what more could you ask for?

We got a fair bit of business done, too. We bid a reluctant farewell to longtime director Beth McGee, who was often described as doing the work of two men. That would appear to be true, as members elected Ken Zwicker and Jim Drescher to replace her. Amanda Lavers, executive director of Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, an affiliate member of NSWOOA, has also joined the board. 

After the AGM, our focus shifted to the Forestry Summit, called by NSWOOA for May 14 in Truro. About 40 key decision-makers from throughout the forest products industry attended -- landowners, staff from the group ventures, sawmill operators, senior government officials, environmental and other non-governmental groups, representatives of the pulp companies, contractors and many others.

Participants engaged in a daylong discussion led by facilitator Tim Merry. Many important points were made, two of the foremost being that change was inevitably coming to the forest products industry, and all of us have important -- and different -- roles to play if the change is to be positive. 

NSWOOA also received a strong mandate for its Forestry Lab project, which will attempt to identify and address key elements of the coming change. You'll read much more about this work in the coming months.

At the same time, Christie Verstraten was keeping our Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest division moving forward by planning and conducting trailbuilding and boundary line workshops in Mooseland, and also drafting several policy documents for consideration by the OPDF board.

Meanwhile, Andy Kekacs was wrapping up our initial contacts with folks who tried NSWOOA's unique landowner goals self-assessment. If you were one of the more than 330 people who used the tool, you should have received most or all of the publications and other resources you asked for, and been invited to call our toll-free line to talk about more complicated questions.

That offer remains open. Call us at 1-855-NS-WOODS with any of your questions about sustainable forestry in Nova Scotia.

Last chance to
win a chainsaw 
On Canada Day, NSWOOA will be picking the winner of an $810 Husqvarna 550 XPG chainsaw from among the more than 330 people who have tried our goals assessment tool for family forest owners.

If you haven't tried it yourself -- or told your family and friends about it -- now is the time!

As an incentive, every landowner who completes it (and provides contact information) will be entered into the drawing for the saw, which was donated by M-C Power Equipment of Truro, 902-895-2400 or We're grateful to Husqvarna and M-C Power Equipment for their support of good forestry in Nova Scotia!

If you haven't used the tool yet, 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.

Visit our Facebook page

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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May 2015

Part 2: Tricks of the Trade


Acadian Forest restoration 

By Tom Miller
Green Hill, NS

Many woodlots in Nova Scotia have been degraded over the last century to the point where they are no longer recognizable as "typical" examples of the Acadian Forest type, this region's natural forest. This is mostly the result of widespread clear cutting, which is an inappropriate forestry treatment for any stand containing a majority of long-lived, shade-tolerant species such as red spruce, eastern hemlock, white pine, yellow birch and sugar maple.


These types of stands are typically made up of various age levels and sizes, making selection harvesting a better treatment. This allows the woodlot owner to pick at or "tickle" his forest, producing round wood for sale while maintaining a canopy of trees throughout that might make it hard to see that any work has taken place.


This would be an ideal, and it is what we're striving for in restoration work. Unfortunately this will take decades, even a century or so to achieve in today's degraded landscape. I find many people aren't willing to wait that long!


For those who do have a long-term vision and are willing to wait, I'll offer a few ideas and techniques that I have found to work for me over the last 15 years or so. Granted, that's not even close to a century, but you have to start somewhere.


Even with the widespread degradation, pretty much every woodlot has some Acadian Forest species as singletons, clumps or even whole stands that have survived the onslaught. These are known as epicenters, and the objective is to "connect these dots" throughout your woodlot. This has proven doable by thinning the woods between these epicenters to create the desired species regeneration on the ground between them.


That's my mantra: "Thin everything!" This opens up the ground to allow regeneration of these shade-tolerant species to be spread around. You get increased sunlight, but maintaining a canopy keeps enough shade to promote these species.


So, an on-the ground example might look something like this:


A one-acre patch of red spruce and hemlock, then scattered hemlock, white pine and yellow birch singletons, and then a half-acre patch red spruce, yellow birch and sugar maple. This is located in a six-acre block, let's say, with poplar, white birch, grey birch, balsam fir and white spruce growing pretty thickly throughout.


Maybe you have no patches, just scattered singletons. It doesn't matter, these are your crop trees and seed sources, and they don't even have to be good-quality stems. Most deformities in trees are caused from some type of physical damage, such as wind, sleet and snow, porcupines, insects or man-made. Hopefully, their progeny won't suffer these indignities and will turn into the quality stems we're striving for.


I like to work through the block and flag the crop trees for leaving to get a sense of how many I have. Just after snow melt in the spring is the best time for this work. I also flag my skid trails at this time.

It's my belief that the best trees to encourage regeneration under are hardwoods. The bare branches in spring allow the ground to warm up quicker, promoting earlier germination of the desired seeds. The bare branches in the fall will mean an improved soil composition from the resultant leaf fall and litter.


My initial harvest will remove most of the softwood from our example above, the fir and white spruce and some hardwood, leaving a thinned out, mostly hardwood cover. Now, the waiting begins, with 5-7 years probably necessary to start to see the results.


There may be some other considerations during this first step. Some advance regeneration of desired species may already be on the ground and should be flagged to avoid negatively impacting this very important component. There may be patches of it that can be released, either partly or completely, thus helping this area to develop quicker.


Leaving low-value stems laying full length on the ground as woody material or girdling trees to create standing deadwood is helpful as well. Watch out for any shrubs that may be part of that important layer. Cutting a spruce to leave some alders may a new experience, but remember you're at a very early stage here and a natural forest has many layers. This work may fall under the category 7c (selection management) of the Forest Sustainability Regulations, and any available silviculture funding goes a long way in making such work feasible. Part of the initial layout of the site can determine this acceptability.


Finally, don't dismiss any areas when you consider restoration. Some suitable seed trees are a bonus, but under-planting a thinned area with the proper species is another way to go. Patience and determination will rule the day.


Editor's note: Tom Miller is a longtime member of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association and a former provincial Woodlot Owner of the Year.


Calling all naturalists!

Please join us for a day in the woods at Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest (OPDF). A biota survey will take place there on Saturday, 27 June -- and we'd like your help! 


The goal is to increase our knowledge about the property's flora and fauna. Naturalists with various interests are invited to participate.


The site is located about 90 minutes from Halifax, near the community of Mooseland, in the interior of the Eastern Shore. Please bring along field guides, binoculars, sturdy waterproof footwear, snacks, water, and insect repellent.


The survey will take place throughout the day. We intend to focus on four areas of interest: hardwood drumlins, softwood lowlands, wetlands, and a core area of old forest that hasn't been harvested since the late 1800s.   


The survey will be a public event; folks are welcome to come and enjoy a day of learning.  Drinks and a BBQ lunch will be provided. Rain date: Sunday, 28 June.


For more information and to register, please contact Clare Robinson at


About Otter Ponds


OPDF is a unique nonprofi­t organization that includes the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association, Eastern Shore Forest Watch, Ecology Action Centre, and the Mooseland and Area Community Association as partners. The partners manage a 500-hectare (1,200-acre) Crown parcel near Mooseland, Nova Scotia, within the Halifax Regional Municipality.


OPDF produces timber for market using the best forest practices presently known. It demonstrates the philosophy and science of uneven-aged management while developing new techniques for silviculture and forest restoration. At the same time, OPDF works to protect wildlife habitat and water quality in the Tangier River watershed, enhance the social and cultural value of the forest, and respect the other values and services that come from diverse, healthy, natural woodlands.


You are welcome to visit us online at:


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.


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




NSWOOA| PO Box 823, Truro, NS B2N 5G6 |