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Below the Canopy explores the relationships between people and the forests they care for, with a particular focus on the Wabanaki forest—a special forest type found across the northeast of Canada and the United States. Intensive forest management since colonization has degraded what was once a diverse and resilient forest while creating challenges for the communities that are most reliant on forests for their livelihoods. In this podcast, host and forest ecologist Megan de Graaf speaks to experts from the region to understand how we got here and how we might start to restore the forest to its former abundance. The series paints a hopeful vision for forests in the region, offering lessons for forest stewardship across Turtle Island.
This podcast is part of Community Forests International’s Common Ground Project, which seeks to build solidarity between settler and Indigenous communities through forest care.
The Wabanaki forest—also known as the Acadian forest—is one of Canada’s most diverse and endangered temperate forest types, yet is largely unknown to the general public. In this episode, Megan speaks to Jamie Simpson—a forester, lawyer, woodlot owner, and the author of Restoring the Acadian Forest: A Guide to Stewardship for Woodlot Owners in Eastern Canada. Jamie traces the history of the Wabanaki forest since colonization and describes pathways for restoring this unique forest to its former abundance.
There is a growing interest in managing natural resources like forests and waterways using both Indigenous ecological knowledge and Western scientific knowledge. While the intent behind these efforts is often well-meaning, the actual application and integration of these practices does not always take full account of the values and needs of Indigenous peoples.
In this episode, Megan interviews Suzanne Greenlaw, a citizen of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and a PhD candidate in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine. In her research, Suzanne weaves Wabanaki ecological knowledge and Western scientific knowledge to improve access to culturally significant plants, such as basket-quality black ash trees and sweetgrass. Suzanne shares her experience integrating Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge into natural resource management and the challenges she has observed throughout her career.
shalan joudry knows the power of language and story for bringing people together around shared causes. As a Mi’kmaw conservation ecologist and narrative artist, shalan has spent her career finding creative ways to share Mi’kmaq culture and teachings to help protect ecosystems and species at risk in Nova Scotia. In this episode of Below the Canopy, shalan explains how she has been able to blend her background as an ecologist with her art, the importance of preserving the Mi’maw language, and the stories that she’s most excited to tell.
Jesse Saindon has spent most of his adult life growing trees. As the owner of Liberty Tree Nursery in Beaver Dam, New Brunswick, Jesse tends to a unique mix of hardwood trees native to the Wabanaki forest—also known as the Acadian forest. In this episode of Below the Canopy, Jesse explains what inspired him to open Liberty Tree Nursery, his process for collecting locally-adapted seeds, and his motivations for growing bur oak—an ecologically and culturally significant tree species that is now rare in New Brunswick.
« C’est quoi le pire qui pourrait arriver? » C’est ce que l’épouse de Mathieu LeBlanc lui a demandé quand il a quitté son emploi et fondé une compagnie de foresterie au Nouveau-Brunswick en 2008. Le pays connaissait une crise financière, la demande de produits du bois avait dégringolé et l’industrie forestière en souffrait. Malgré ces difficultés, le pari de Mathieu était bien placé : sa compagnie, ACFOR, est l’une des compagnies forestières écologiques les plus prospères au Nouveau-Brunswick. Dans cet épisode de Sous la canopée, Mathieu nous fait connaître sa motivation à fonder ACFOR, nous dit pourquoi sa compagnie a si bien réussi et nomme les ingrédients essentiels de la viabilité économique d’une foresterie écologique.
We would like to acknowledge the Government of Canada for supporting this project. If you enjoyed listening to this podcast and would like to support future episodes and our work to protect and restore the Wabanaki forest, you can do so here.