There are some notorious members in the weasel family, from the iconic wolverine to the extinct sea mink, the majority of these midrange carnivores known for a deceptive cuteness and ill-suited ferocity. When it comes to the weasels of Nova Scotia, some have been exterminated, others have held their ground, but only one, to my knowledge, has dared to do both.
In 1977, after a cluster of cases in a small town of New England, clinicians identified what would become an emerging disease for surrounding states, today infecting tens of thousands annually. And the township in question, its name now carrying a measure of infamy, was Lyme, Connecticut.
Dan Dupont is a fourth generation forester from the Gaspesie region of east Quebec. An “Islander by choice” since 1997, he’s made it his business to re-imagine the woodlots of his adoptive home.
In many ways Island forestry was born from the second world war, he said, back when 70 per cent of PEI was dedicated to agriculture. This historic conflict called away Island farmers and in many cases, they never came home, leaving their properties without a permanent caretaker. Others still returned from the war entranced by the technological advancements of the age, forsaking rural living for urban opportunity.
As the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid threatens the integrity of Maritime forests, government departments, research organizations and stakeholders alike are preparing their defence. And in their search for expertise in combating this invasive insect, they’ve looked no farther than New York State.
Tracking down a specific tree in Nova Scotia is like hunting a grain of sand on Prince Edward Island or a cob of corn in southern Ontario, but I found it all the same, on an undisclosed dirt road in Nova Scotia’s Hants County. Its species once accounted for a full quarter of all tree in the mixed deciduous forest of eastern North America, conquering habitat from southern New England to the Appalachian mountains and northward into Ontario. In front of me was the king of the forest, as it was known, long since deposed – the American Chestnut.
Marine Protected Areas, or MPAs, are relatively new to Atlantic Canada, arriving in May of 2004 with the establishment of The Gully off Nova Scotia’s eastern shore. Here is a 2,364 square kilometre stretch of ocean under special management for its contributions to coastal ecology, our first such safe-house but far from our last.
It’s easy to lose yourself in old growth forest, your neck craned back to admire the towering canopy and your voice kept low as to not disturb the silence. Stepping into one is like entering a cathedral, and having its defining features pointed out is like an initiation into some exclusive club. And the more you see, the more lofty your membership.
The buildup of C02 in our atmosphere is the defining issue of our time, caused by the fundamental workings of our civilization and resulting in the catastrophic warming of our planet. But while our eyes are rightly fixed on this climbing thermometer, another consequence of rising C02 often escapes our gaze.