Truro Family of Doctors Sees Value, Relaxation in Woodlot Management
NOTE: The following is a feature story about the Woodlot Owner of the Year Award.
Three generations of Truro-area doctors know the value of being recognized as good stewards of the forest.
When the Cook family received a regional Woodlot Owner of the Year Award in 2009, "it made us feel a lot better about what we are doing," says George Cook, the eldest of the family of doctors.
"I think the more people are aware of the values you're trying to promote in your woodlot, the more people will take an interest in it and maybe decide to do it themselves," says son Steven.
George, who spent part of his childhood roaming woods in Hants County, bought one parcel of land in the 1970s in Colchester County. The woodlot is now 366 hectares (904 acres) of mainly hardwoods, such as sugar maple, with some softwoods and about 2.4 hectares (six acres) of wild blueberries.
The Cooks based their decisions on advice from foresters and forest technicians.
"Without a management plan, I wouldn't have known how to carry out any of the activities in a way that would produce the kind of results that came to pass," says George.
Within the past three years, a new management plan has been developed.
"We'd like to have a more diversified forest," said Steven. There is also more focus on the recreational benefits of the woodlot, including the possible creation of a nature trail.
George's grandson Chris says the new plan fits in well with the priorities of his young family.
"We're focused more on what the kids can do in the woodlot and on having a diversity, of tree types and strawberries and blueberries and what we can use the forest for now and in the future."
Like many people whose work involves a lot of mental effort, time on the woodlot has its own rewards.
"As physicians, in an office or hospital environment we're seeing and talking to people, dealing with problems all day long," says Steven. "As much as we might enjoy that, getting out into the woods is totally different. It's like going on vacation, except you don't have to take a week off and travel to the other side of the world."
There are many dedicated woodlot owners across Nova Scotia and the Department of Natural Resources would like to hear more about them. People who know someone managing their woodland in a sustainable way, should consider nominating them for the 22nd annual Woodlot Owner of the Year Award (WOYA). The deadline for nominations is April 15, 2011.
Eligible woodlot owners must live in the province, own 20 to 800 hectares (50-2,000 acres) of woodland and be willing to host a field day. Nomination forms and more information about the WOYA program can be found at www.gov.ns.ca/natr or by calling toll-free 1-866-226-7577.
Taking the time to nominate a person or family for their stewardship of the forest could result in a welcome surprise for a neighbour, friend, or acquaintance.
"Being told we have a nice woodlot and we've done nice things to it, it made us feel really good," says George Cook.