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Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association 




"For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers."


Hermann Hesse


Zach Churchill named Minister of Natural Resources

The Hon. Zach Churchill of Yarmouth has been named Minister of Natural Resources in the new Liberal government.



Churchill was first elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly as MLA for Yarmouth in a by-election in 2010. He was re-elected in October.


His biography, as presented on the website of the Liberal caucus, reads in part:


"A familiar face in the town of Yarmouth, MLA Zach Churchill is an active member of the community where he was born and raised. Representing the students of Yarmouth in his youth, Zach continued his engagement in student politics while working toward his degree at Saint Mary's University, [serving] as President of the Saint Mary's Student Union for two years. Zach continued to represent students in Ottawa as the National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, representing over 300,000 students across Canada.


"In 2010, a by-election in Yarmouth presented the opportunity for Zach to return to his hometown and work toward a lifelong goal: to represent the people of Yarmouth as their Member of Legislative Assembly in Halifax."


NSWOOA congratulates Zach Churchill on his appointment. We look forward to working with him for the betterment of Nova Scotia's forests.


We also send thanks and best wishes to outgoing Minister Charlie Parker, who led the department through an exceptionally difficult time.


Call us for free at 1-855-NS-WOODS 

NSWOOA took a giant step forward recently in its ability to serve small forest landowners.


We've added a toll-free telephone number to help you find answers to your forestry questions.


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:





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November 2013
Government considers NSWOOA plan for outreach to landowners


By Andy Kekacs
Program Director, NSWOOA


Hampered by a lack of funding, the province has had limited success in helping small, private landowners to understand how active management can help them to achieve their goals for forest ownership. The percentage of owners who are actively managing their woodland in Nova Scotia has steadily declined in recent years. This growing reluctance to sell timber has become a significant limiting factor for Nova Scotia's forest-products industry, according to a 2011 report by Woodbridge Associates.


Changes in the attitudes and goals of woodlot owners lie at the root of the issue. Research has shown that most private, non-industrial owners in Nova Scotia do not view timber sales as a primary source of income and do not consider timber income as a primary reason for owning woodland.  Surveys of small-woodland owners in the province -- and throughout North America -- have consistently found that other values predominate.


On the whole, wood buyers and forest service providers have been slow to react to the change in landowner motivations. There has been no sustained, province-wide effort to help woodlot owners understand how their personal goals can be achieved through good forestry.


Both the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR) and the ongoing Private Woodlot Owner Forum have focused on improving "one-to-one" services to landowners, such as commercial harvesting, silvicultural treatments, management planning, and so on. These services are essential, but they only reach owners who are actively managing their forestlands. By some estimates, two-thirds of small woodlot owners in Nova Scotia are not.


The Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association believes that a new approach to

landowner outreach is needed. The goal is to support good stewardship on all of Nova Scotia's small, private woodlands; to restore the native Acadian Forest ecosystem; and ultimately to create opportunities for rural jobs and economic development through the  enhancement of local harvesting and forest-products manufacturing capacity.


A meaningful outreach program would have four essential components: 

  • Efficiency: Outreach is most efficient when delivered on a "one-to-many" basis. It is unnecessarily expensive to maintain multiple overlapping outreach programs and resources.
  • Effectiveness: It is essential that the right outreach services be delivered to the appropriate landowners. Developing tools to identify and serve distinct segments of landowners based on their interests and needs is critical. 
  • Collaboration: "One-to-many" outreach services should ultimately help landowners to develop the confidence to work with local service providers and engage in "one-to-one" management activities.
  • Focus: The provision of outreach services through multiple organizations is confusing. 


Woodlot owners need to know where to look for answers to their questions about forest ownership and management. A basic package of information on topics ranging from forest management to tax planning should be available to all landowners, whether they live in Clark's Harbour, Meat Cove, or somewhere outside of Nova Scotia.


In meetings with staff of the Department of Natural Resources, NSWOOA has proposed that basic outreach services for small woodlot owners be managed province-wide from a single point of delivery. The association is uniquely well suited for that role: It has high credibility with landowners due to its well-established reputation as proponent of good forestry.


Furthermore, NSWOOA's directors collectively own several thousand acres of forestland and have hundreds of years' experience managing small woodlands. They include professional foresters, harvesting contractors, multi-generation family forest owners and farmers. NSWOOA's program director has conducted nationally significant research into the goals and motivations of forest landowners. He also has extensive experience directing public outreach programs in forestry.
The association already has all of the basic tools in place to conduct a meaningful outreach


  • Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest, operated as a division of NSWOOA, is a 1,500-acre Crown parcel in Mooseland. The forest is managed in partnership with three other non-profits. Otter Ponds is a living laboratory that shows how timber production can be compatible with the protection of the full range of other forest values and services.
  • NSWOOA has launched a new website,, which will become the most comprehensive library of resources available about forest management in Nova Scotia. The website will meet the needs of woodlot owners for information across the full range of their goals.
  • The association has created a toll-free telephone number - 1-855-NS-WOODS - to serve as the first point of contact for landowners who have questions about good forestry.
  • "Legacy," the NSWOOA newsletter, has been re-designed. The scope and depth of articles has improved, and the newsletter can be distributed electronically - at low cost - to all landowners who request it.
  • The NSWOOA Facebook page,, is now recording between 300 and 1,000 views per week. The page has links to forest-related programs and events, news stories and scientific research.


NSWOOA has proposed that these existing resources and strengths be augmented as described briefly below:


1. Compile a basic packet of information about forest ownership and mail it to small landowners.

2. Develop an online tool that will help landowners to self-assess their attitudes and motivations. Use the results of the assessment to begin the process of separating landowners into categories based on their goals. Identify a pool of landowners who have

expressed interest in learning more about silviculture, habitat improvement, firewood production, commercial harvesting, Acadian Forest restoration or other "active" management activities. 

3. Call these "interested" landowners and talk with them about their capacity and willingness to do their own work on the land, and about their needs for information, professional services, or other support. Refer the landowners to appropriate print and digital information, "one-to-one" service providers, and other resources. Develop criteria for referrals in consultation with service providers.

4. Continue to staff our toll-free telephone line --
1-855-NS-WOODS -- to answer questions from forest landowners.

5. Adapt and expand NSWOOA's web-based sustainable forestry resources to address more

issues and serve a wider group of small-woodlot owners and the public.

6. Improve "Legacy," NSWOOA's monthly electronic newsletter, and expand distribution to all forest landowners for whom we can obtain an e-mail address.

7. Offer site visits to landowners who are planning a future commercial timber harvest but don't know the current condition of their woodlots or have a clear understanding of how to get started. In order to minimize travel costs, the visits may be made by NSWOOA employees, private consultants or others.

8. Increase visitation at Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest, expand tours and workshops, improve infrastructure, maintain FSC certification, etc.

9. Work in partnership with other landowner organizations and service providers to conduct

listening sessions throughout the province at which landowners can learn about ongoing changes in the service delivery system and offer suggestions for improvement. While such sessions might include presentations on a specific topic (e.g. silviculture funding), the events should focus on encouraging landowners to voice their concerns and needs. 


Staff at NSDNR have been supportive of the NSWOOA proposal, but it is not yet known what priority the new Liberal government of Premier Stephen McNeil will give to forest issues. The Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Assocation believes that landowner outreach services should be considered as a legitimate government expenditure to address a significant provincial need that cannot be met through market mechanisms.


Controlling erosion with native plants


by Dan Hutt

OPDF Board Member


Every woodland owner knows that erosion is the enemy of roads and bridges. That's why Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest held a workshop recently about practical and inexpensive methods to control the problem. Led by horticulturalist Jim Turner, the workshop introduced participants to the use of native woodland plants to protect roads and bridges.


The workshop took place at the end of September at Otter Ponds, a 1,500-acre Crown parcel near Mooseland. Operated as a division of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association, the parcel is jointly managed by NSWOOA and its partners -- Eastern Shore Forest Watch, Ecology Action Centre, and the Mooseland and Area Community Association.


Activities at the workshop concentrated on stabilizing the area around a new bridge across Otter Ponds Brook. Appropriate wild ferns, sedges and shrubs are readily available in the demonstration forest, and in most woodlots. They have different roles to play in stabilizing soil, while also maintaining biodiversity.


Horticulturalist Jim Turner demonstrates how to take cuttings of Canada yew.

(Photo courtesy of Dan Hutt)


For the area under the bridge where it's shady and wet, Jim led participants in digging up various ferns along the brook and transplanting them among the rocks at the base of the bridge abutments. The root ball of each fern was wrapped in newspaper to hold the soil together until the roots can take hold.


Along the sides of the bridge Jim recommended northern wild raisin and Canada fly honeysuckle. These shrubs thrive in wet locations along streams, and they transplant readily in the autumn or spring. They are very effective at holding soil against temporary flooding that may happen along watercourses.


Another plant that Jim recommended for erosion control along streams (and very attractive, too!) is Canada yew. Also known as ground hemlock, Canada yew is uncommon and therefore impractical to transplant. But Jim demonstrated how to take cuttings to propagate Canada yew, and autumn is a good time of year to do so. Jim will keep the cuttings from the workshop in his greenhouse, and they should be ready to transplant around the Otter Ponds bridge in two years. Perhaps that will be the occasion of another seminar at Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest.


The erosion control workshop was the latest in a series of events at the forest, which produces timber for market using the best forest practices presently known, while protecting wildlife habitat and the Tangier River watershed, respecting the ecosystem services provided by the parcel, and enhancing the social and cultural value of the forest.

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 � 2013. All Rights Reserved.