HALIFAX â€“ The province is taking the next step in building the future of forestry by accepting expressions of interest for community forests. Seven groups have provided submissions, from St. Margarets Bay to Digby.
"By allowing local communities to manage forests on Crown lands, we are moving the province closer to the forestry of the future envisioned in the province's natural resources strategy," said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker. "We are ensuring new opportunities for families close to home, so it's great to see so many community organizations embracing this forest management model."
Premier Darrell Dexter announced in December the province's move to community-centred forest management, beginning in southwestern Nova Scotia, where the Bowater mill closure has had the greatest impact.
Community forests are places for commercial forestry, tourism, recreation, habitat protection, environmental education and research. Municipalities, forestry businesses, wood co-operatives, non-profit organizations and other community-based groups can all manage the forests on leased Crown land.
There are 125 community forests in Canada. The model is successful in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.
The deadline for expressions of interest submissions was Jan. 31. The initial focus on southwest Nova Scotia was recommended in the Bowater Transition Advisory Team's December report.
"Government is following through on the transition team's recommendation," said Mr. Parker.
All eligible submissions will be reviewed, with requests for detailed proposals for one or more pilot projects.
The province is also exploring opportunities for a Mi'kmaq forest initiative with the Assembly of Mi'kmaq Chiefs.
The province will work collaboratively with the assembly to ensure interested Mi'kmaq groups and entrepreneurs have opportunities to be involved in forest initiatives.
Details on the community forest model are available at www.novascotia.ca/jobshere .