Saturday night, we were treated to Nature Night at Sugar Moon Farm.
Supper was pancakes, sausage, beans, blueberries and maple syrup. Sugar Moon Farm is an excellent example of value-added forestry products. For dessert, we had four talks related to private woodlot management. The audience was about forty persons. The introduction was provided by Matt Miller, followed by his father, Tom, President, The Friends of Redtail Society; Dale Prest from Community Forests International and then Greg Watson, North Nova Forest Owners Co-op.
The Friends of Redtail Society offered the following philosophical position ‘ The Land: from Commodity to Community’, based on the Aldo Leopold quotation:
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect”
Dale Prest described the concept of climate forests as a new paradigm for rural economies, where the forest is managed to capture and store additional carbon. Outside Sussex, New Brunswick, Community Forests International manages 705 acres. It provides a model for the purchase of carbon offsets. They have a two-pronged approach: privately-owned climate forests and community-owned climate forests. Recently, they have established a for-profit Climate Forest company.
Greg Watson explained the history of North Nova Forest Owners Co-op. Today they have 286 members and manage 69,600 acres. Greg used GIS to illustrate the distribution of these clients over time across Northern Nova Scotia. He also showed the application of new GPS and GIS technology by the contractors who are undertaking ecosystem-based management. The co-op manages the relationship between the local contractors and the woodlot owners.
It was a very positive evening. It showed how the next generation of forest managers are working with woodlot owners in the Maritimes. This offered a stark contrast to the current litany of media reports on clearcutting of crown lands in Nova Scotia.
Last Thursday afternoon, we visited Dick Groot’s photographic exhibition at the Cedar Centre in Windsor. it is entitled Closure: a photographer’s eye on an old economy. The four closures were Windsor Wear, Fundy Gypsum Company, Britex and Minas Basin Paperboard Mill. The last closure is also described in a separate book, We wanted it to last forever. It includes both photographs and interviews with former employees at the mill.
In the Closure Epilogue, Dick is optimistic about the new economy.
” Here in Nova Scotia, we have seen significant growth in the wine producing industry where supporting research is being introduced in several universities and colleges. We also have the College of Geographic Science in Middleton, a truly world-class institution that can support a vast range of environmental and infrastructural enterprises and governments”.
( Indeed, the College of Geographic Sciences, now the Centre of Geographic Sciences, is in Lawrencetown. Middleton is the site of the Applied Geomatics Research Group and the Environmental and Agricultural Technologies Lab)
“Therefore I am optimistic for re-building the economy in a more sustainable, diversified manner than we have done in the past, based on a merging of existing competencies with a new digital world.”
My interpretation of these two events is as follows. There is an optimistic vision, following Friends of Redtail Society, based on community rather than a commodity. It can be applied to the land and the sea. It respects the changing climate. There are ways to combine ‘boots on the ground’ with ‘eyes in the sky’ to convert ‘problems’ into ‘opportunities’. This was well-illustrated by the talks from a single sector, Forestry, at Nature Night in Earltown. We also know that small-scale manufacturing in rural communities will not last forever, especially if they are dependent on external investments and the fluctuations in the global economy.
I am concerned about the concept of ‘carbon offsets’. This seems to be yet another reductionistic idea. Reducing the complex forested landscape to carbon; carbon then becomes the commodity. This warrants more thought and a deeper understanding.
Sugar Moon Farm. https://www.sugarmoon.ca
Friends of Redtail Society www.friendsofredtail.ca (Tom Miller)
Community Forests International forestsinternational.org (Dale Prest)
North Nova Forest Owners Co-op Ltd. www.northnovaforestry.com (Greg Watson)
Dick Groot. 2018. Closure. A photographer’s Eye on an Old Economy. Gaspereau Press.
Dick Groot. 2015. We wanted it to last forever. South of the River Publishing.