A group of five advocates for Nova Scotia woodlot owners toured Finland last fall to observe the organization and management of small private woodlots. The tour participants have organized their observations and data into a report, Small Private Forestry in Finland – 2016 Learning Tour Summary Report, giving details and comparative analysis that demonstrate how forest management, particularly for small private forests, can be improved in Nova Scotia.

The authors are H. Alexander, Dr. M. Hobbs P.Eng. RPF, P. Burchill RPF, J. Crooker, J. MacDougall RPF.

The tour group talked to landowners, teachers, forestry equipment manufacturers, foresters and government representatives. In the foreword of the report, they explain what they came to call “the Finns’ focus on forestry”. “Their gaze is fixed ahead. They anticipate demand with excellent R & D budgets for engineered wood, paperboard, bioenergy and the emerging bioeconomy markets. They assure supply by making intelligent investments in woodlot owner support, forest inventory and contractor training. The group met woodlot owners with a deep connection to their forest who also have business acumen. They invest in silviculture on their own forest land in order to supplement their future income. They employ others in their forests. It is their culture.”

The group concluded it is imperative “to create a sustainable forest culture in the province that runs as deep and strong as the forest culture in Finland. The Acadian forest should be celebrated and our forests should help bring our people sustenance. The prosperity of our rural areas is no mystery: it is tied up in the standing resource that is our forest. It is as plain as the trees outside your window.”

In order to create a fully integrated framework for woodlot owners in Nova Scotia, and to better manage the resource, the authors have identified five key areas:

  • Culture and attitude
  • Strong landowner support system
  • Intensive sustainable forest management regime
  • Intensive market development
  • Quality forest inventory and information sharing

The sponsors of the learning tour are: The Forestry Lab (A joint project of NS Woodlot Owners & Operators Association & ACOA); Port Hawkesbury Paper; Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners (FNSWO); NS Landowners & Forest Fibre Producers Association (NSLFFPA).