Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association (ESFWA) is one of the applicants in the court case to save Owls Head Provincial Park. Along with biologist Bob Bancroft (President of Nature Nova Scotia), Forest Watch has requested a time extension to ask for a judicial review as well as requested the judicial review itself.

While Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association has never been an applicant in a court case before, the group felt compelled to take legal action when Owls Head Provincial Park was secretly removed from Our Parks and Protected Areas Plan.

“We believe that the provincial government acted unfairly when it chose in great secrecy on March 13, 2019 to delist Owls Head Provincial Park to sell to a developer. Maps and reports from successive administrations over the last 45 years have labelled this land as Owls Head Provincial Park, or more rarely, as Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve. The government’s action is a threat to over a hundred other similarly categorized Crown lands that Lands & Forestry may be considering selling at this very moment to the highest bidder without any public consultation.” 

Barbara Markovits of Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

Who they are

“Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association was founded in 1998 by a group of concerned citizens who support a vision of sustainable forest practices.

Members of ESFWA understand that humans are but one of hundreds of species in any region, each of which is important in its own right as an integral part of the ecological web. Members include established Eastern Shore families and new residents, woodlot owners, foresters, business owners and professionals, all deeply concerned about the health and future of our forests and wild lands.

Simply stated, we address local environmental issues as they emerge, with reasoned argument and passion for the Earth.”

Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

What they do

Forest Watch often uses science-based advocacy and public information campaigns to help encourage good environmental stewardship.

The goals of Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association are far more varied than its name might suggest. The group was formed because of a keen interest in sustainable forestry, but they haven’t stopped there. As different environmental issues have arisen over the years, the group’s projects have diversified.

Owls Head Park & Eastern Shore Forest Watch

“I believe that Owls Head Provincial Park Reserve was protected because it contains a globally-rare intact ecosystem, pristine undeveloped shoreline, and species of conservation concern. The Association fully supported the listing of Owls Head in order to protect these ecological values.”   

Barbara Markovits of Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association

You may remember Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association as the host of the community meeting in Ship Harbour. Patricia Egli of Forest Watch compiled and presented a thorough timeline of Owls Head Provincial Park’s history, including its role in the Eastern Shore Seaside Park System.

Forest Watch has networked with other environmental groups and is a signatory of the joint letter to save Owls Head. They have been managing the funds that were raised to secure environmental lawyer Jamie Simpson. (Thank you again to everyone who donated to the Go-Fund-Me campaign.)

Some of Forest Watch’s Past Successes

Eastern Shore Forest Watch has participated in every public consultation on parks and protected areas in Nova Scotia since it was founded 22 years ago. Time and time again, it has been a voice for wildlife and wilderness.

The official designation of Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area (SHLL) was due to a 10-year endeavour by Forest Watch and other supporters. Ship Harbour Long Lake Wilderness Area is just over 16,000 hectares. The wilderness area encompasses lakes, old-growth forest, open and treed bogs, and drumlins. Not only does SHLL offer scenic canoeing, angling, hiking, and camping, but it is also home to species such as brook trout and the endangered mainland moose.

Forest Watch supports both the Nova Scotia government’s designation of the Eastern Shore Islands Wilderness Area and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust’s additional protection of the 100 Wild Islands, off the Eastern Shore. Forest Watch is passionate about preserving Nova Scotia’s coastal ecosystems.

The group has helped to promote the health of the Acadian Forest through “action, education, and alternatives.” One of the ways they’ve done this was by becoming a founding member of the Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest in 2010.

Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest (OPDF) is a place for all Nova Scotians to learn about forest ecology and the sustainable management of our native Acadian Forest. OPDF is a living laboratory that shows how timber production can be compatible with the protection of the full range of other forest values and services. […] Otter Ponds demonstrates the philosophy, science, and practice of uneven-aged management in the Acadian Forest. It produces timber for market using the best forest practices presently known, while protecting wildlife habitat and the Tangier River watershed, respecting the ecosystem services provided by the parcel, and enhancing the social and cultural value of the forest.

Otter Ponds Demonstration Forest

What Else They’re Working On

  • Forest Watch continues to advocate for the creation of wilderness areas and nature reserves, including those unprotected components of the Eastern Shore Seaside Parks System.
  • The group is dedicated to supporting the protection of coastal areas across Nova Scotia.
  • For the past 12 years, Forest Watch has been deeply involved in efforts to stop destructive industries such as gold mining on the Eastern Shore.
  • Forest Watch continues to support groups that focus on ecological forestry and Acadian Forest Restoration.
  • And if that wasn’t enough… they would also like to help mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

How You Can Help

  1. Consider joining Eastern Shore Forest Watch. Membership is very reasonable, at $10 for an individual or $15 for a family. Becoming a member not only sustains the work that Forest Watch is undertaking but also gives them more influence as an association. Membership is not restricted to Eastern Shore residents. Forest Watch already has a number of Forest-Watchers-from-away. Membership application available here.
  2. If you are not able to donate financially but would like to volunteer your time and talents, email info@forestwatch.ca
  3. You can also “like” The Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association on Facebook to stay up to date with their projects. They have an excellent Facebook page with lots of interesting environmental articles.


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