Wabanaki Forest

What is Wabanaki-Acadian forest? You may know these Eastern Maritime forests by the name given by Acadian settlers, or perhaps more appropriately, “Wabanaki,” an Algonquin word that roughly translates to “Dawn land.” These forests spanned what is present-day Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia and are composed of a mix of both hardwood and softwood, including sugar maple, red spruce, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, beech, and cedar. These shade-tolerant, long-lived trees provide essential habitat for many species, particularly birds at risk, such as the threatened Canada Warbler. Even as these large trees die and gradually fall to the forest floor, they provide valuable habitat to many species. These fallen trees are often locations of the most biodiversity in the entire forest.

Ecosystem Stability

Old forests play an important role in the maintenance of a stable ecosystem. Daily, seasonal, and extreme weather conditions are buffered by the presence of an established, stable forest.

Freshwater floodplain forests are essential to the health of the entire watershed. They prevent erosion, siltation, create shade and naturally filter the water to keep it clean, clear and cool, which is vital for the species depend on these habitats for survival. Floodplain forests are rare in Nova Scotia and protecting the remaining intact forests is critical in facilitating natural regeneration of adjacent habitats.

The state of the forest today

The natural legacy of Nova Scotia, including the Wabanaki forest, is threatened. In the Maritime provinces, less than 1% of forests are in an old-growth state, and over 95% of critical floodplain forests have been destroyed.

Most of the forests we see today are growing back from previous cuts or from land cleared for agriculture. Those that are over 100 years old are mostly found in small isolated stands that are not big enough for wildlife species requiring large areas of undisturbed forests, such as bears and martens.

And like other critical ecosystems, Wabanaki-Acadian forest is even further at risk from the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. Their protection is crucial for the unique habitats and biodiversity they encompass, the essential ecological services they provide, and their role as many communities’ cultural and economic backbone.

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