The St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association
with the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association (NSWOOA) and a growing group of sympathetic NGOs are working hard to establish a St. Margaret's Bay Community Forest on the 90,000A former Bowater-Mersey -
St. Margaret’s District.
Having spent the summer and fall of 2012 encouraging the provincial government to "Buy Back the Mersey", when we began to get hints in November that our campaign would
be successful, (though how successful we could never have imagined!), the 82 organization coalition, "Buy Back the Mersey", shifted its focus to determining how the lands
could best be managed.
We began to argue for the establishment of
Community Forests.Our arguments again fell on receptive ears. On December 10th at a highly publicized event at the
Hubbards Barn. Premier Dexter announced that up to Jan 31
the government would accept "expressions of interest"
(EOI) from communities to establish their own
Community Forests. The next day at the Westin
he announced that the province had bought for $1 the entire assets of Bowater-Mersey including its half-million acres
of land, which as you probably know consists of
three parcels, the Medway, the Rossignol,
and our own St. Margaret’s Bay District. (Much to the relief of the company’s former employees and the people of
Liverpool, they also bought the company’s liabilities,
notably its $118m pension debt.)
Immediately following these announcements, the Stewardship Association with some of its
Buy Back colleagues immediately began to put together proposals for Community Forests,
one for the Medway and a second for St. Margaret’s Bay.
So, what is a Community Forest?
A Community Forest is a forest leased by the Crown to communities surrounding the forest. In most cases the communities form a coop comprised of NGO’s and community organizations. A crack, experienced management team is contracted. Profits from the forest go to the communities. The underlying logic is, no one has more of a stake in the long term health of a forest than the communities who benefit from it. Community Forests adhere to the very highest standards of forestry management; restoration of the Acadian forest, closed canopy, mixed species, uneven aged forests, etc.
Community Forests are not a new invention.
I draw your attention to two successful precedents which we are using as models:
Harrop-Proctor in BC, a mature Community Forest, is an excellent model. We are borrowing from them heavily. See http://www.hpcommunityforest.org
A smaller local Community Forest is profiled here by one of the founders of Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners Association,
Otter Pond is in fact managed by NSWOOA – their expertise in our proposal will be key.
The St. Margaret’s Bay Community Forest we are proposing would seek FSC certification and
be guided by the following principles:
Forest before Fibre ecosystem-based management
Cooperative community governance and shared benefits
Multiple values (economic, environmental, recreational, cultural)
Building the local economy
We are committed also to Mi’kmaq involvement – they have significant claims to portions of the District.
In addition to the sustainable management of the forest, the local benefits are manifest: to tourism and
eco-tourism, to the continuance of our traditional hunting and fishing, hiking, OHV use, camp access,
and other recreational use; the protection of old growth and significant habitat; the preservation of both
European and First Nations’ cultural heritage. No one can do this better than we can collectively.
But first we have to get the nod from government.
Thanks so much in advance for your support and please don’t hesitate to give me a call
if you have any questions or can offer and guidance or support.
Geoff Le Boutillier, Chair
St. Margaret’s Bay Community Forest
680 Indian Point Rd.
Glen Haven, NS
Geoff Le Boutillier has put together an excellent Public presentation of the History of forestry in St. Margaret's Bay and proposals on how a Community Forest might be managed and governed by representatives from the Community, First Nations, Government and Industry.