Nova Scotia

How a group of neighbours in Annapolis County saved 19 hectares of forest from clearcutting

A group of dedicated neighbours in Annapolis County, N.S., have saved 19 hectares of mature forest and wetlands from clearcutting.

Arlington Forest Protection Society formed last September to purchase the land

A small group of people are seen in Arlington forest near Hampton, N.S. The Arlington Forest Protection Society hosted its first biodiversity walk in the area on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Submitted by Laura Bright)

A group of dedicated neighbours in Annapolis County, N.S., have saved 19 hectares of mature forest and wetlands from clearcutting.

"It was just amazing to see how much people really invested in protecting this small corner of rural Nova Scotia," Laura Bright, a member of the Arlington Forest Protection Society, told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Tuesday.

Last June, a group of neighbours on Arlington Road in Hampton discovered that a large swath of forest on top of North Mountain was at risk of clearcutting by a logging company.

Bright said it was a worrisome — and familiar — situation for the community.

In 2019, the community was devastated after 40 hectares of land on Hampton Mountain Road — which typically provided a scenic drive — was decimated by clearcutting.

"We just thought we can't let this happen [again]," Bright said.

A sign that reads 'Arlington Forest' is posted to the entrance newly protected forest. (Submitted by Laura Bright)

The piece of land on Arlington Road is made up of mature forest and wetlands, which is situated between privately owned lands that create a 182-hectare wildlife corridor.

Bright said if the logging company continued its plan, a road would have been built through the wetlands and into the forest, destroying important ecosystems and habitats.

That's when 15-20 neighbours decided to band together to raise money to purchase the land.

Bright said about 200 people donated between June and August, with money coming from as far as France and the United Kingdom.

Tall, mature trees are seen in Arlington forest near Hampton, N.S. The land that was purchased by the Arlington Forest Protection Society is made up of mature trees and wetlands. (Submitted by Laura Bright)

"[There were] a few times where things started to plateau and we were getting a little bit nervous that we weren't going to hit our target," she said.

"Then more contributions would come in and we had some really generous donations and we had some people that were just giving whatever they could, including rolls of coins."

By September, the group raised $92,000 to cover the cost of the land and legal fees of creating the Arlington Forest Protection Society.

The society officially purchased the land in January.

"The purpose of this particular forest is to leave it as is," Bright said.

Bright said during the biodiversity walk on Saturday, attendees spotted mushrooms, lichen and moss and other signs of wildlife. (Submitted by Laura Bright)

However, Bright said the forest will be used to educate Nova Scotians about the importance of keeping forests intact and protecting wildlife habitats.

The society held its first biodiversity walk in the forest on Saturday. Bright said about 25 people attended and the group spotted signs of wildlife like birds, bears, coyotes and deer.

"It was just so inspiring to see everybody out there and involved and checking out all the tiny little mushrooms and lichen and moss and looking at all the big trees," she said. 

"It was a really awe-inspiring feeling to be there knowing that we've preserved this for not just ourselves, but for future generations."

With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning Halifax

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