For thousands of years the Maliseet Nation has called the Wolastoq – or Saint John – River home. Generations of Maliseet stewarded and thrived within this special place: the rich lands and unique micro climate of the river valley naturally support the richest diversity of forest life in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Tall pines, stately hardwoods and even the rare burr oak- likely brought to the area by the Maliseet from southern locations – dominate the native forests.
400 years of European settlement, however, have reduced these forests and landscape to a simplified, impoverished version of its natural self. Land clearing, burning and repeated clearcut harvesting has resulted in a forest that today stores less than 1/5th of what would be stored by the original forest.
One settler family, however, maintained their own piece of original forest, living as a part of and making use of the forest in a way that today gives us a glimpse of what must have once been common across the landscape.
The Robinson family settled 350 acres of land on the banks of the Washademoak Lake in what is today known as Cambridge Narrows, NB. They farmed and made use of the forest to survive and grow multiple generations on the lands.
Like many rural families throughout Canada, fewer and fewer members of the younger generation stayed and lived from the land, opting instead for more stable careers in urban professions.
Robena (Robinson) Weatherly was the last of her family to be born and live in the old family homestead, where her ancestors built in the 18th century. Born in the 1930s, Robena returned to her place of birth after a successful academic career as one of Canada’s first forest entomologists.
Robena has always been aware of the responsibility of maintaining her familys legacy of forest stewardship: her 350 acres contains some of the last genuinely old growth pine and hemlock forests in the lower Saint John River Valley.
Without family or successors to continue this stewardship, the future protection of the Robinson family forest was in a precarious position: approximately 95% of lands that trade hands from one generation to the next in NB get clearcut within 5 years. Estate taxes, debts and the financial pressures of a modern life provide more than enough encouragement for new generations to sell lands quickly after inheriting them, and those willing to harvest all available trees at the lowest cost possible are always able to make the most lucrative offer to the sellers.
The Robinson Conservation Forest
What We Did
Assessment, Tree Survey
Helping make the connection
through community and a trusted
network of like minded people.
Community Forests International (forestsinternational.org), a local charity dedicated to fighting climate change, has been connecting responsible corporations concerned about their carbon footprint with healthy, carbon-dense forests in NB for a decade.
Forests Intl. hired the Climate Forest Company to quantify and account for how much carbon would be stored if they could purchase the Robinson family forest rather than seeing it sold on the open market. Climate Forests was able to show that by managing this forest to store elevated and stable amounts of carbon through time, that 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide could be kept from the atmosphere.
By demonstrating and communicating the climate benefits of protecting the Robinson Family Forest, Forests Intl. was able to find corporate partners who wanted to support the initiative by purchasing the carbon rights to the Robinson forest.