Old Bowater-Mersey forests used to create sustainable firewood company

Barb McKenna barb.mckenna@tc.tc
Published on July 27, 2016

The forest on the old Bowater-Mersey lands are now being used to create a sustainable firewood industry

LIVERPOOL - The Medway Community Forest Coop has started a new firewood business with the aim of sustaining and conserving the forest for future generations.

The organization wants to provide surrounding communities with a source of local, sustainably harvested and traceable firewood. It uses local contractors to harvest off the land base through carefully developed techniques best suited to the trees that exist in that forest, says Mary Jane Rodger, general manager of the co-operative.

 The organization was formed as Nova Scotia’s first ‘community forest’, following the Provinces’s purchase of the old Bowater Mersey Lands. The MCFC has been allocated 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of Crown Lands in the Medway area with the goal of establishing a different type of forest management business focused on ecosystem-based forestry and local economic development, says Rodger.

“The organization is focused on maintaining healthy ecosystems, supporting local businesses and workers, and developing new forest economies in southwestern Nova Scotia.”

 Local workers process the firewood for the public and bundle wood for Kejimkujik National Park and Historic Site, at their yard in Kempt, Queens Co. 

 “The MCFC is proud to be the supplier for Keji firewood this year and in 2017, and are hoping to keep campers happy and warm for years to come,” she says.

 However, the coop doesn’t want to outcompete local producers, she says.

 “We want to ensure there is a sustainable and reliable supply of firewood for local communities, to protect consumers from fluctuations in the firewood market by providing a steady supply of wood at reasonable prices”.

 The cooperative is now looking for new clients.

 “The organization has implemented harvesting techniques that focus on protecting young trees, an important part of the long-term development of the forest. These techniques include “patch-cut” harvesting that mimics natural disturbances of the Acadian forest, such as hurricanes, large wind storms and in some instances, fire,” she says.

It is also developing a carbon-offsetting program;  The process would allow the MCFC to sell carbon credits to companies looking to compensate for their pollution.  The MCFC is working with the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute and Sackville, NB based organization, Community Forests International, to help bring the possibility of selling carbon credits to private woodlot owners as well.

 “The MCFC is also interested in providing services, products, and employment to communities from Annapolis Royal to Bridgewater and everywhere in between. So far, the MCFC have helped Mill Village-based entrepreneur, Tim Reeves-Horton start-up a new and unique business based on moss collected or ‘rescued’ from the MCFC landbase, known as Medway Moss. While moss may not be the first forest product you think of, Tim knows it is an important and vulnerable part of the ecosystem that is easily damaged during the forest harvesting. Tim ‘rescues’ moss from the MCFC landbase, collecting it before harvesting occurs and then transplants it into local gardens and woodlots,” she says.