Forest owners cant make a go of it anymore

Colin MacLean
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Woodlot owners not pleased with compensation package from Ottawa

AMHERST - Small woodlots owners are not happy with the recent compensation package offered to ailing industries by the federal government.
There will be no benefit what so ever for family forests, said Andrew Fedora, executive director of the Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners.
The way the market has been going lately it is becoming impossible make a profit on small woodlots. In many cases they are actually starting to cost owners money, he said.
"Traditionally the markets were strong enough that you could build a road or plant some trees."
The closure of mills means a loss of buyers for small operations. And thousands of families supplement their income by selling trees from their forests.
John Roblee is one of those owners; he manages 450 acres of mixed forest in Cumberland County. He believes that it's in the public's best interest to start paying attention to plight of small forestry operations.
"If things don't change then society is going to pay a hefty price," he said
People want clean drinking water, fresh air and unpolluted streams. If people are making money by managing their woods, they contribute to all these things. But when expenses start pilling up, hard decisions need to be made, he said.
"The only option might be to clear cut your land, and I don't think anyone really wants to do that. But when you're faced with mounting bills or putting kids through college it can be a tough choice," said Fedora
Owners aren't looking for handouts or compensation. Even allowing woodlots to qualify for small business loans would help, he said. A small business is expected to start showing profits are the first few years, but woodlots take considerably more time to show any profits.
"It can take 40, 60, 80 years before you see any profits."
In the mean time Roblee has started looking at alternatives to harvesting his trees. Including using his woods as a carbon sink for big business or eco tourism.
"I think there is a demand for other markets," he said

Organizations: Federation of Nova Scotia Woodland Owners

Geographic location: Ottawa, Cumberland County

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