Operated as a division of NSWOOA, the Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest (OPDF) is a place for all Nova Scotians to learn about forest ecology and the sustainable management of our native Acadian Forest. OPDF is a living laboratory that shows how timber production can be compatible with the protection of the full range of other forest values and services. It provides opportunities for woodlot owners, elementary and high school groups, university students and researchers, non-profit organizations, and individuals to visit an outstanding example of working forestland.

Otter Ponds demonstrates the philosophy, science, and practice of uneven-aged management in the Acadian Forest. It produces timber for market using the best forest practices presently known, while protecting wildlife habitat and the Tangier River watershed, respecting the ecosystem services provided by the parcel, and enhancing the social and cultural value of the forest.

Management practices are certified to the Forest Stewardship Council’s Maritime Standard. OPDF is managed by a unique partnership that includes four non-governmental organizations, a forestry company and the province. The partners jointly manage a 500-hectare (1,200-acre) Crown parcel near Mooseland, within the Halifax Regional Municipality.

School groups, woodlot owners, and individuals or organizations that are interested in sustainable forest management are invited to visit Otter Ponds. For more information, contact Andy Kekacs, the project manager, at 1-855-NS-WOODS or andy.nswooa@gmail.com. 

If you want to support the continued development of the Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest as a nationally significant example of sustainable forest management, you are invited to join NSWOOA as an associate member. For a $10 annual membership fee, you’ll become a voting member of the division. More importantly, you’ll be supporting some of the best forestry practiced in Canada. An application can be found here.

Chreck out the Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest at otterponds.ca.

Forest Roads, Bridges and Trails Workshop- Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Building and maintaining forest roads, water crossings and trails are some of the most important -- and challenging -- activities for Nova Scotia woodland owners. If the work is well planned and executed, the investment can improve the economic and recreational value of a woodlot for decades. 

On Saturday, May 13Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest and Kate Campbell, a woodlot owner in East Jeddore, will host a half-day workshop on forest roads, water crossings and trails. Otter Ponds is a particularly good place to hold the event. Over the past five years, the demonstration forest has built an extensive road system, a timber crib bridge, and an innovative crossing for a seasonal wetland. Otter Ponds is also working right now to extend a hiking trail system throughout the 1,500-acre Crown parcel, which it operates under a lease from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. 

You can see all of these improvements at the field day, which is part of the Woodland Owner Mentorship Program. The mentorship program is a partnership of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, and Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners. 

If there is enough interest, the half-day program at Otter Ponds will be offered twice. The morning session will start at 8:30 a.m., while an identical program may be offered in the afternoon beginning at 1 p.m. All participants are invited to lunch at the Otter Ponds visitor shelter from 12 noon to 1 p.m. 

A tentative schedule for the field day can be viewed here. The cost for the event is $25 per person. Lunch will be provided. Space is limited, so register soon at www.nswoods.ca or call NSWOOA toll-free at 1-855-NS-WOODS if you are interested. 

After registering, you will receive a packet with more information. Participants should wear clothing appropriate for a long walk in the forest in mid-May. OPDF is located about 1.5 hours from Halifax or Truro. Here's a map

The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources provides funding for the mentorship program, which enables small woodlot owners to see real-world examples of topics covered in DNR's Woodlot Management Home Study Program. Learn more about the Home Study program here

It's recommended that participants look at the appropriate modules in the DNR's Home Study program, which are available for free download. The topics covered will include Module 11: Roads & Trails, and parts of Module 9: Woodlot Recreation, which can be downloaded here

For more information, contact Andy Kekacs, executive director of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association, at 1-855-679-6637 or andy.nswooa@gmail.com

Acadian Forest Trail to be Built with Mountain Equipment Co-op Grant

Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest has been awarded a grant from Mountain Equipment Co-op's Community Investment Fund to develop the "Otter Ponds Acadian Forest Trail."

This grant will allow us to hire a trail consultant to create a detailed plan for the Acadian Forest Trail by spring 2016, as well as provide training to teach volunteers how to build it. We hope to complete the trail network by spring 2017. After a call for proposals, the trail consultant contract has been awarded to Community Forests Canada, based in Sackville, NB. We look forward to working with them on this project.

The trail network will connect the many habitats and forest types of Otter Ponds, and showcase the sustainable forestry practices of the project. The construction of these trails will greatly enhance the educational opportunities we have at Otter Ponds and allow access to some areas of the project lands that are currently difficult to reach.

We believe the nearly 10 km trail will be a recreational and educational resource for Nova Scotia, and look forward to being able to offer Nova Scotians the opportunity to experience the Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest like never before.

We are most grateful to MEC for their confidence and sponsorship!


Mike Cogdon, manager of the Halifax MEC store presents the first installment of the grant money to Christie Verstraten and Dan Hutt of OPDF, Jan. 6, 2016 (photo credit Jon Eliott, MEC)



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