We finished 2023 on a high note after a huge year with some significant changes. Overall, 2023 was a whirlwind, with the launch of our Hemlock Conservation Initiative, new species at risk detections, and rapid growth of our affiliate organization, the NS Working Woodlands Trust. We also had several changes in our staff – our past Executive Director, Mary Jane Rodger, decided to leave her position with Environment and Climate Change Canada and return to both the MCFC and the NSWWT. We also said goodbye to our land trust and outreach manager, Jennika Hunsinger, who embarked to Central America for work and travel. We are grateful for Jennika’s efforts over the past 4 years with the MCFC and the NSWWT, and wish her the best in this next chapter. Overall after a busy year, our staff are looking forward to starting 2024 with new leadership and capacity.
Along with Mary Jane’s return, we hired a new land trust manager, Mhari Lamarque in September who will be working exclusively for the NSWWT. Mhari comes from a background in agriculture, conservation and landowner engagement and is a farmer and woodlot owner herself, residing in Lunenburg County. We will also be welcoming more new staff to the NSWWT this year, including Shayla Nickerson, a forester-in-training, as our Stewardship Coordinator, and an outreach coordinator which is currently open.
We are also currently seeking several seasonal positions on our Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Strike Team, and will soon advertise for our summer outreach coordinator, and our new campground attendant – all great opportunities for students who love working in rural communities and the outdoors!
NS Working Woodlands Trust Update
We are thrilled to announce that as of November 28, 2023, the NSWWT is now designated to hold easements under the Community Easements Act. This has been a long road for us, over 2.5 years – but finally our persistent efforts have paid off! This is a significant step in bringing our vision of long-term stewardship and conservation of working woodlands in Nova Scotia to life. Evidently this is tremendously exciting news for our team, we could not have done this without the support of the landowner community and the forest and conservation professionals who serve the Wabanaki-Acadian forest.
As the NSWWT embarks on this new chapter, we will work more closely with private landowners who want to ensure the long-term protection and stewardship of their woodlands. If you are interested about putting a working forest easement on your land, please reach out to Mhari.
At the future MCFC campground, we recruited The Howl Experience, an experiential learning program that engages youth from across Canada in immersive, community-based learning experience in October to help with some upgrades. The Howl team learned about MCFC and our ecologically based, multi-value approach to community forestry and got their hands dirty clearing campsites and maintain trails at the future site of the MCFC campground. This fall we also completed more infrastructure upgrades with Oneric Excavation and Forestry, including the installation of two outhouses. We’re very excited to share this offering with the local community and planning to have several sites ready for a May 2024 opening!
In November, we hosted students from the Lunenburg campus of the Nova Scotia Community College’s Natural Resource & Environmental Technology program. This tour was focused on our silviculture program and students learned about the pre and post treatment assessments that are completed as part of our pre-commercial thinning (PCT) and crop tree release (CTR) treatments.
Forest Management Update
We have been working with Brown Bear Forestry Ltd. of Chester to complete PCT and CTR silviculture work throughout the MCFC license area. These silvicultural interventions will help to increase the growth and quality development of treated stands while also improving the climate resiliency of the forest by promoting species that are expected to continue to grow well as our climate changes, while supporting biodiversity.
We are planning our next harvest with Freeman’s Lumber and R&C Weare Logging in the Snowshoe Lakes area of the Medway in mid-January. Our harvesting operations have been slow this fall, but hoping that 2024 will be the year we hit our stride and able to consistently have ecological forestry operations rolling outside the migratory bird breeding season.
Many of you might recall our management planning process that occurred in 2016, and it’s now time to revisit that process and form a new forest stewardship plan. We have recently been awarded a forest innovation voucher from the Nova Scotia Community College to fund a new forest management model to support forest operations planning and inform the calculation of our annual allowable cut. Creating this model will ensure that MCFC best management practices including our breeding bird season will be reflected when calculating our threshold for sustainable timber harvesting. The voucher will also fund a desktop archeological screening of the entire MCFC license area, to highlight key areas to avoid when planning harvest operations that may intersect with Mi’kmaq historical use. Along with gathering this new data, we will be hosting public meetings to inform the management plan later this spring to gather insights from our membership.
The MCFC is one of many partners involved in the Ecological Forestry Research Initiative that was recently awarded $1.57 M from Research Nova Scotia. Through the EFRI, MCFC has partnered with Anthony Taylor from UNB to conduct research on the effectiveness of tree marking to support selection management. Tree marking has been a staple of MCFC operations for years, and we’re looking forward to gathering data to prove it is a worthwhile practice for operational efficiency and to help preserve biodiversity features on Crown Lands. We are currently looking for a passionate and driven student interested in pursuing an MScF, please see the full posting via the UNB Forest Management Lab.
Thank you for your support and interest in the Community Forest. If you’re in need of a new cozy sweater, check out our merch store!
Our mailing address is:
Medway Community Forest Cooperative
PO Box 157
9793 Highway 8
Caledonia, NS B0T 1B0