MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.
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There are at least 120 community forests across Canada. They are each customized to their communities but have four things in common:
You may remember that MTRI was one of the partners involved in submitting an expression of interest for a community forest in what was part of the Medway District formerly owned by Bowater Mersey bought by the government late last year.
Community forests are a relatively new concept in Nova Scotia, but are widespread elsewhere in Canada. They have the following four attributes in common: local control, community benefits, multiple use, and forest stewardship that promotes long term forest health. In July 2013, the Department of Natural Resources called for more detailed community forest proposals on Crown land in south west Nova Scotia.
In October 2013, following a review of proposals from communities in South West Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources announced that the province will negotiate a three-year Crown land forest agreement with the Medway Community Forest Co-operative to establish Nova Scotia’s first community forest on 15,000 ha of forest in the Medway District of the former Bowater lands.
On January 30th 2015, Minister Churchill signed an agreement with the Co-op for an initial three year lease and sart up funds for the first community forest of its kind in Atlantic Canada.
The Medway Community Forest Co-operative is supported by several groups including the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, Wind Horse Woods, the North Queens Board of Trade, the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners, Nova Scotia Woodland Owners and Operators Association, Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, and the Ecology Action Centre, as well as numerous local community members, forestry contractors and local mills.
The Co-operative is a locally governed, long-term, ecologically-based stewardship organization that allows multiple uses of a working forest, whilst nurturing new and innovative forest-based businesses that support the local economy.
To find out more visit: www.medwaycommunityforest.com
The first meeting of the proposed Medway Community Forest Co-operative was Monday January 21st at 7pm at the Caledonia Masonic Lodge on Highway 8. For more information about community forests, listen to one of these podcasts: November 19th 2012 and/or January 16th 2013.
If you'd like to learn more about the history of this initiative, consider joining two Facebook groups by clicking here and here! MTRI conducted a public opinion poll in January 2013. You can download the summary of the survey or contact us for a full report.
Have a look at what the province purchased:
Photo Credits: Alain Belliveau
In Nova Scotia, a community forest advisory committee has been struck by the Nova Forest Alliance who organized a Community Forest Forum in June 2012. Researchers from Dalhousie University have provided the government with clear recommendations based on the forum. The closest thing we currently have to a community forest is at Otter Ponds in Halifax County where a community group is leasing crown land to collaboratively manage it as a demonstration site for a sustainable working woodlot. In NSDNR's recent forest strategy, it committed to: "Explore ways to establish and operate working community forests on Crown land”. Final proposals for community forests on crown land are due to the province in July 2013.
MTRI staff, volunteers, and partners recently hosted five MLAs for a discussion about purchasing woodland from Resolute for biodiversity and for community forests.