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Organization buying N.S. forests to prevent clear-cutting


With World Environment Day just around the corner, a local Nova Scotian organization is working to purchase and conserve forests which are in danger of being clear-cut.

The CEO of Growing Forests, Dale Prest, says saving forests from being clear-cut is important to maintain our environment.

“They protect our wildlife habitat, they provide places to take our kids and grandkids for a walk, they clean our water, they clean our air, and perhaps most importantly they store huge amounts of carbon,” said Prest in an interview with CTV’s Crystal Garrett in an interview Thursday.

“When we cut forests down, it often can take 50 to 100 years to recapture the carbon, even when the trees were replanted quickly.”

Prest points at another problem with clear-cutting -- the damage it does to the soil when the trees aren’t there to give shade.

“You expose the soil to hot dry temperatures, it really dries the soil out and can kill it, because soil is a living thing, and there’s almost twice as much carbon stored in that top metre of soil as there is in all of the trees combined,” he said.

“So when that soil gets dried out and desiccated, it really can take decades and over a century to restore that soil health which is the foundation for all the good things a forest does.”

Prest says Maritime forests are especially in danger due to the ownership laws around them, as a total of 70 per cent of Nova Scotian forests are privately owned, compared to only five per cent in British Columbia and 10 per cent in Ontario.

Many of the over 30,000 small private woodlot owners have owned the land for generations, and as they get older and are in need of money, they sell their properties to forestry companies which hope to clear the trees for profit.

“That’s why we started growing forests, so we could pool our resources to go out and buy these forests from woodlot owners that are getting older, and provide them another option so they could see their forests sustained for another generation or two,” said Prest.

Growing Forests’ main goal is to keep land owned by Nova Scotians, and to preserve the forests we still have.

“No one can own more than 20 per cent of the company, and we did that because we wanted to be a true grass roots community-led effort and keep land ownership in our local communities,” said Prest.

More information on Growing Forests can be found on their website

With files from CTV's Crystal Garrett. 

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