A campaign to protect the Wabanaki Forest

By Monica Allaby, Posted on May 10, 2022

New Brunswick non-profit launches campaign to protect 2,500 acres of endangered forest

Sackville, New Brunswick: Community Forests International has launched a fundraising campaign to protect and restore 2,500 acres of forest across the Maritimes while raising public awareness about the special forest type that is found in this part of Canada.

The Wabanaki forest—also called the Acadian forest—is one of Canada’s most diverse and endangered temperate forest types, yet is largely unknown. 

“The Wabanaki forest is a unique mixture of northern adapted species like spruce, poplar, larch and birch; as well as southern adapted species like oak, pine, maple and hemlock,” explains Craig Tupper, Forest Program Manager at Community Forests International. “Due to its natural diversity and the moist east coast climate where it thrives, it is resistant to disasters like pest outbreaks, wind, and fires.”

Formerly dominated by large long-lived tree species like white pine and hemlock, intensive land management since colonization has left this special ecosystem a shadow of its former richness.      Scientists have affirmed what Indigenous communities already knew—that most of the Wabanaki forest has been drastically altered.

“The vast majority of the Wabanaki Forest Region is now simplified and lacks the full complement of softwood and hardwood trees that originally made it such an exceptional mixed-wood ecosystem,” says Tupper.

The small remnants of this forest that remain intact today are often on hilltops and in hard-to-access ravines, where forest clearing could not easily reach. Tupper and his colleagues have spent the last year searching for these remnants—which are usually found in corners of larger properties—and have lined up sales agreements with several private landowners. 

In addition to old forest conservation, the organization plans to purchase and restore areas that have been harvested also. Community Forests International uses proforestation—actively managing younger forests back to their full ecological potential to augment their ability to sequester carbon and adapt to climate change.

“Our highest priority is to protect old forests, but where old forests have been lost, we search for degraded forests that have conservation value and bring them back to health,” explains Tupper. 

The organization has secured 80% of the required funds to purchase these woodlands through private foundations and must raise the remaining $250,000 before the end of July.

Key Points

  • Atlantic Canada only receives 2.5% of all environmental funding nationally and has the lowest percentage of protected areas in the country.
  • Community Forests International has secured 80% of the required funds to purchase and conserve 2,500 acres of forest in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
  • The Wabanaki Forest is a diverse forest that spans the Maritime Provinces, the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec, and parts of New England.
  • The World Wildlife Fund classified the Wabanaki Forest among the most endangered forest types in Canada.
  • The organization hopes to raise awareness of the unique characteristics of this forest and the opportunities for achieving improved biodiversity and climate values in an often-overlooked region of Canada.

About Community Forests International

Community Forests International works to protect and restore the climate by enabling communities and forests to thrive together. To date, the organization has protected and restored over 3,000 acres of forest in Atlantic Canada.