ELGIN ECO ASSOCIATION
There are a lot of passionate people in New Brunswick who value the health of the natural environment and our connectedness to it. Having worked closely with community groups on conservation and stewardship of land across the province over the years, the Nature Trust has learned the power of grassroots organizations to influence large conservation action in their communities.
The Elgin Eco Association and the successful conservation of the Mapleton Acadian Forest Nature Preserve is a great example of this potential. The Elgin Eco Association (EEA) was established in 2005 and is run by dedicated and passionate volunteers with a mandate to encourage healthy outdoor living, sustainability and ecotourism in the community of Elgin, NB. The EEA has maintained the beautiful Mapleton Acadian Forest Trail in their community since the inception of their organization. This 3km trail network takes visitors through mature Acadian Forest, along ravines and across streams. It is used for educational programming and is a draw for hikers from across the province. The EEA has installed educational interpretive signage along the trail, lookout platforms, and nesting boxes for the elusive northern flying squirrel.
The land features true Acadian Forest, with a mix of a variety of hard and soft wood trees including eastern cedar, red spruce, yellow birch and red maple, to name a few. The Acadian Forest is a resilient forest well adapted for our climate and supporting a diversity of understory plant species, birds and mammals. It is classified as an endangered forest type in North America by the World Wildlife Fund, with less than 5 percent of pre-settlement area of intact Acadian forest remaining. When the area changed land ownership in the summer of 2016 and this Acadian Forest was slated for clear-cut, the EEA took action to conserve the trail and forest.
A crowdfunding campaign was developed to raise the funds needed to purchase the land, the EEA held fundraisers, naturalists were invited to compile inventories of species present on the land, and a video with stunning footage from the Mapleton Acadian Forest Trail was developed by photojournalist Nick Hawkins and Ian Lodge, “A Forest is Forever: Help Save Mapleton” which received thousands of views. The EEA approached the Nature Trust to partner on conserving the land and trail and after months of campaigns and fundraising, the Mapleton Acadian Forest Nature Preserve was officially protected in December 2016.
Thanks to the efforts and determination of the EEA, the community and numerous supporters and donors, the 64.74 hectare (160 acre) piece of forest and trail is now conserved forever and will continue to be stewarded by the EEA. The Elgin Eco Association and the Nature Trust of New Brunswick hosted an opening ceremony for the nature preserve on August 13th, 2016 to celebrate the newly acquired preserve.