Three Nova Scotia families are being recognized for their management of woodlands.

The Woodland Owners of the Year are:

• Martha Brown, eastern region and overall provincial winner

• Norman, Gary and Brian Melanson, western region

• Mike Oulton and family, central region

“This award recognizes their commitment to innovative and skilled woodlot management that has garnered the respect of their peers,” said Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines. “Healthy and diverse forests depend on the type of effort these woodlot owners demonstrate.”

Martha Brown of West Lochaber Lake in Antigonish Co. is a retired teacher. Her 162-hectare woodland is a living example of sustainable land management, having belonged to her family for generations. She uses her woodland to produce various forest products, including blueberries.

Norman, Gary and Brian Melanson have a 212-hectare woodlot in Concession, Digby County,that has been in the family for more than a century. They use sustainable management and harvesting methods to ensure its long-term viability. Their business supplies wood to Freeman and Sons Lumber Ltd. and other local facilities, and they encourage people to use their woodlot for outdoor recreation.

Mike and Dianne Oulton operate a 324-hectare woodlot in Windsor with their sons Victor and Wayne. They raise livestock and harvest firewood and logs to sell. Their operation began in 1965. It has three full-time employees and has hired many contract workers over the years.

The Woodland Owner of the Year Award recognizes outstanding woodland stewards, encourages sustainable woodland management and increases public awareness of the importance of private woodlands.

To be eligible for nomination, one must own 20 to 800 hectares of woodland in the province. Nominations are evaluated by a committee of foresters, wildlife specialists, industry representatives, previous winners and environmental or forestry students.

Woodlands are evaluated on the quality of integrated resource management with an emphasis on wood production, commitment to sustainable goals, wildlife habitat protection and recreation, forest knowledge and the woodland’s health.