There’s been many interesting and exciting things happening at the WWSC this spring! We’ve gained many new members, hosted field tours, helped with various silviculture and harvest jobs, hired consultants for a wood heat conversion analysis, and hired two foresters and a summer student! Our second annual general meeting is also coming up on June 15th. Read on for further updates, we have a lot to share!
We now have 153 members representing 49,585 acres in Western Nova Scotia. Lunenburg and Digby Counties continue to have the highest number of members representing nearly half of the total acreage as seen in the graph below.
On April 26, the WWSC held a forest professionals’ field day in North Range Digby County where forester, member, and mill owner Harold Alexander was the host. Forest professionals from all backgrounds were invited to the event, and 16 attended. Participants visited 40 years of intensive forest management by means of natural regeneration strategies on various woodlots that Harold has helped manage. The sites visited were red spruce dominated stands where silviculture was completed over various development stages from regenerating to multi-aged stands. The purpose of the day was to discuss management strategies, timing to implement silviculture and harvest entries, costs and silviculture funding rates. There were many good discussions and constructive debates.
On May 4, WWSC held a similar, less technical field day with Harold as a host for woodlot owner members and other interested woodlot owners. Despite the rainy forecast, there was a total of 25 that attended this event. There were many good discussions at this event as well, and at the end of the day many expressed how much they learned and were glad they came.
Our year-end total (ending March 31, 2019) of wood products sold through the WWSC was 13,417 tonnes. Our goal was to sell 10,000 tonnes of wood products in our first operating year which we are pleased to say we achieved. Of the total volume, 80% of wood products were sold from Digby and Yarmouth Co., and 20% of wood product volume were sold from Lunenburg & Queens Co. The main products sold were spruce logs, spruce studwood, fir studwood, hemlock logs, biomass wood, and some hardwood. The following is a percentage breakdown of products sold to various mills:
Freeman Lumber 54% Ledwidge Lumber 3%
J.A Turner & Sons 17% North Range Forest Products 2%
Spec. Resources 13% Lewis Mouldings 1%
Hefler Forest Products 4 % A.F.T Sawmill 6%
Since our last newsletter, we have helped claim funding for 11 various silviculture jobs totalling 65 hectares (160 acres). These claims were mostly for completed commercial thinning and selection harvest jobs, followed by pre-commercial thinning and manual weeding. The total amount of funding claimed was just about $35,000, which came from funds allocated to WWSC from the Association for Sustainable Forestry. This completed silviculture work and associated funding has helped members benefit from stand improvement activities.
Wood Heat Conversion Feasibility Analysis
Earlier in the year, the WWSC wood marketing committee commissioned a feasibility analysis on the conversion of fossil fuel-based heating of private commercial buildings to sustainable wood chip-based heating. The reasoning behind this project is to work towards improving markets for low-grade wood resulting from forest stand improvement activities such as thinnings and partial harvests, as well as boost our rural economies. Responsible utilization of low-grade wood as a heat source has significant economic and environmental advantages in our rural communities as compared to burning foreign oil. The following are the project’s objectives:
Investigate new markets for low grade wood;
Identify existing buildings and new sites that show potential for wood heat installations or for the conversion of heating systems from fossil fuels to local wood as a fuel source;
To build business cases for the conversion of fossil fuel heating systems to wood heat-based systems;
To develop a business model for the design, installation and operation of appropriate wood heating systems and for wood heat conversion opportunities in Western NS.
The study was commissioned by a request for proposals that was released at the end of January. Two proposals were received, and a thorough evaluation of proposals was completed by the wood marketing committee. On March 5, the work was awarded to consultant Dale Prest of Climate Forest Company who partnered with Mathieu Leblanc of AcFor Energy on the proposal, who has extensive experience with designing, commissioning, supplying and operating wood chip-based heating systems. The Committee later met with Dale and Mathieu to discuss the work plan and deliverables, discuss and sign the contract, and get started on this project. The project is now well underway and at our upcoming AGM they will present and discuss findings they have made so far.
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) funding
At the end of October, WWSC submitted a funding proposal to ACOA titled “Setting the groundwork in Western Nova Scotia: rejuvenating small private woodlot management”. There were two main components of our project proposal 1. Updating old management plans and 2. Market development for low-grade wood- a feasibility analysis on wood heat conversion projects of private buildings (as discussed above). Our proposal for funding was approved and the contract was signed on Dec. 18, 2018. ACOA sent out a media news release on our approved funding for our projects on March 11.
Expansion of Staff
We are very pleased to announce that WWSC has hired two new foresters that are experienced and passionate about private land woodlot management. One forester will be based in Digby County and concentrate delivering services to members within the tri-counties (Shelburne, Yarmouth & Digby) including western Annapolis and portions of Queens Co. The other forester will be based in Kings and concentrate delivering services to members in Kings, eastern Annapolis, Lunenburg and portions of Queens Co. Our new foresters will be starting on June 3 and July 2 respectively, and will be introduced at our AGM on June 15. The Coop will also be hiring a forestry summer student to help with the field work and outreach to members. We’re excited to have these new faces join the Coop staff team to help with our growing workload, and help build the WWSC.
Our second Annual General Meeting is approaching quickly! It will be held on Saturday, June 15 from 9:30am to 3pm at the West Northfield Community Hall in West Northfield, Lunenburg County. For those of you who don’t know where West Northfield is, it is approximately 7 minutes north from the town of Bridgewater along Highway 10.
This year we will start off with a woodlot walk to talk about the basics of forests and woodlot management followed by lunch. After lunch, we are delighted to have the hired consultants for the wood heat conversion feasibility analysis project, Dale Prest of Climate Forest Company, and Mathieu Leblanc of AcFor Energy & Forest Management Inc. to talk about their findings so far. Our business meeting will follow, and the day will end with door prizes and a main prize draw.
Mark the event on your calendar today and please contact us to pre-register by June 10 as lunch will be provided. The event is free, and it is open to non-members, so be sure to tell your woodlot owner friends.
The tentative agenda will be as follows:
9:30 - 10:00: Registration, coffee/tea/morning snack, & conversation
10:00 - 12:30: Morning woodlot walk and tour - discussing the basics of forests and forest management
12:30 -1:30: Lunch
1:30 - 2:00: Wood heat conversion analysis project update with project consultants Dale Prest of Climate Forest Company and Mathieu Leblanc, AcFor Energy
2:00 - 2:10: Results of last year’s AGM brainstorming session regarding how to best serve our membership
2:10 - 3:00: Business meeting & draw for prizes!
If you have any questions or need help from us in any regard, please contact us by phone(902-523-2141) or by email. It’s our job to be here for you and we’re happy to help.
Thank you for reading and and we look forward to seeing you at the AGM on June 15th!