By Monica Allaby, Communications Coordinator, Posted on March 23, 2020

Community Forests International has acquired a 115-acre forest in Waterford, New Brunswick, about 15 kilometers from Sussex. The Sackville-based charity has now protected more than 1,170 acres of old forest in New Brunswick.

The forest was donated to Community Forests International by Elizabeth (Betty) Lucas, née Buchanan. The forest belonged to her family since 1855, when it was granted to her great-great grandfather by the Province of New Brunswick. Her grandfather was raised on the homestead, which was affectionately known as the “old place” among her extended family.

In 1972, Lucas purchased her uncle’s share of the property and in upon the death of her father in 1987, inherited the remaining half. When Lucas bought the property, it had long ceased being a Buchanan home, but the forest still held cherished memories.

“My sisters and I had the privilege of  knowing and adoring our grandfather, so, for us, the very essence of his soul and spirit have been captured in these hills and rocks and trees,” said Lucas.

“Now we can ensure that these woodlands, which have been quietly doing their work of carbon capture for centuries, will continue forever,” she said. “They will be in step with all other planet-saving initiatives, both great and small.”

Now we can ensure that these woodlands, which have been quietly doing their work of carbon capture for centuries, will continue forever.

Lucas had heard of Community Forests International’s work and was impressed by its projects in the Sussex area. “We’re privileged to inherit the responsibility of stewarding this unique forest from the Buchanan family,” said Megan de Graaf, who oversees the organization’s conservation efforts. “We know how special this forest is to Betty and her family, and it is of utmost importance to us to honour their legacy through careful stewardship.”

 The unique ecological features of the property include tolerant hardwood stands and an old spruce forest, as well as an impressive rock cliff face. de Graaf speculates that, due to the forest’s steep terrain, it has likely not been harvested much in the past. A brook flows through the property and into the Kennebecasis River, which contains important spawning grounds for Atlantic Salmon and brook trout.

In the past twenty years, New Brunswick has clearcut approximately 20% of its forest cover. “Old Acadian forests like this are becoming increasingly rare at a time when we need them more than ever,” said de Graaf.

Over the past decade, the organization has observed the impact of demographic changes on the province’s forest landscape; de Graaf notes that succession planning for their forests has become a pressing concern for many small private woodlot owners.

Community Forests International is eligible to receive donations of land and is also able to purchase land using the revenues from its carbon offsets projects. “We hope that our organization can serve as an option for people who can no longer steward their land, but don’t want to see it clear-cut,” said de Graaf.

Community Forests International is in the process of developing a forest management plan for the property to guide future stewardship and intends to install a working lands conservation easement, a robust legal tool to ensure the long-term protection of the property.

Where possible, we will conduct light timber harvests on the property to optimize the forest’s health, with particular attention paid to increasing the forest’s resilience to climate change.

This article was originally published under a different title on March 22, 2020 by the NB Media Coop.