The central St. John River valley is home to a type of hardwood forest not found elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. This forest type, Appalachian Hardwood Forest (AHF), analogous to Ontario’s Carolinian forests, occurs on well-drained and calcareous soils in the sheltered confines of the central Saint John River Valley.
In 1997, the Nature Trust located 65 patches of AHF which retained some level of conservation significance. The patches range in size from smaller than a hectare to larger than 100 hectares, and are scattered throughout Carleton and Victoria counties.
Despite severe fragmentation, some remnant mature AHF patches maintain a diverse array of ground flora species, including thirty-five provincially uncommon, rare or very rare plant species. Typically the forest type includes basswood and butternut trees. Its understorey plants include spring ephemerals like the uncommon round-leaved hepatica, yellow lady’s slipper, showy orchis, Canada violet and maidenhair fern. The Trust survey also found such rarities as Clinton’s Shield-fern and Desmodium glutinousum – a species of tick-trefoil which had previously been listed as provincially extirpated.
Locating and cataloging land with conservation significance was an important step toward protecting it, but only a first step. The Trust’s second step was to develop and carry out a landowner and public awareness campaign. Our overall goal has been to obtain the highest level of conservation possible for each Appalachian Hardwood site.
To date our achievements include:
- Landscape Ecology Mapping project for the region;
- Annual Wildflower Walks to Appalachian Hardwoods sites in Carleton County;
- An agreement between the Nature Trust and the Town of Woodstock to protect a 15 ha Appalachian Hardwoods site, Beardsley Hill Nature Preserve;
- Assisting Southern Carleton Elementary School to develop an ecological Appalachian Hardwoods classroom in their backyard;
- Assisting the Meduxnekeag River Association to establish the Meduxnekeag Valley Nature Reserve;
- Assisting the Meduxnekeag River Association with the purchase of the 60 ha Bell Forest (identified by the Trust as the single richest surviving example in NB of Appalachian Hardwoods);
- Protection of a 33 ha AHF site in south-western Carleton County as a tribute to Hal Hinds’ dedicated conservation work by the Province of NB;
- Department of Transportation’s purchase of 72 ha of currently unprotected, high priority Appalachian Hardwoods stands for conservation purposes.
Meduxnekeag River Association took an active role in land conservation in the identified sites of Appalachian Hardwoods.
The Nature Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the following sponsors for it’s work on Appalachian Hardwood Project: NB Environmental Trust Fund, NB Wildlife Trust Fund, EJLB Foundation, Town of Woodstock, World Wildlife Fund, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Shell Environmental Fund, McCain Foundation, T.R. Meighen Foundation, NB Department of Natural Resources, Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, J. D. Irving, Ltd., Nature NB