Mersey Lands


Map of Mersey Lands (NS Government) Click on image for larger version (screen capture) or original (NS Gov. 8 MB). The area includes  555,000 acres of commercial and protected woodlands, including the Medway, Rossignol and St. Margaret’s Bay districts.


Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited
Wikipedia “From 1929 until June 2012 Bowater Mersey operated a thermomechanical pulp (TMP) mill and associated paper mill producing newsprint located in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia. Annual production in 2011 was approximately 253,000 t (253,000 t) of newsprint…Since December 10, 2012 the company [including its land holdings]  has been owned by the Government of Nova Scotia,”

Ingram River Wilderness Area: A Short History of Our Campaign
On Protect Ingram River Wilderness Area website, accessed Jun4, 2024 “The collapse of the Bowater Mersey Paper Company in 2012 triggered an outpouring of public support for a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the company’s vast woodlands in western Nova Scotia as public lands. The St. Margarets Bay Stewardship Association (SMBSA), along with people from all walks of life across the province, rallied around the idea of finally having a say in how these lands would be managed. A packed meeting at the local community hall sent a clear message to government: Buy Back the Mersey! And they did. In a single visionary act, the Province of Nova Scotia responded by acquiring nearly all the company’s lands. The purchase was heralded as a chance for citizens to shape a new future for the new public assets; the former Mersey lands. Unfortunately, it was not to be…”

Westfor Management Inc.
“WestFor was created in 2016 when 12 mills came together to create a partnership to effectively manage crown lands in western Nova Scotia. WestFor manages crown lands holistically to ensure the highest value is attained for the province. This partnership has led to the implementation of better forestry practices and the highest environmental and safety standards. Through this process our 12 local mills, many of them family owned, have been able to invest in their businesses providing local employment and give back to their local communities where trees are grown and harvested.”
NOTE: Arrangements with Westfor, if not the precise configuration of 2016 were initiated by the NS Gov. in 2014; see below.

Western Crown Land Planning Process – Updated August 2015
NS Gov. NRR Website. Access to many documents, maps. View the Updated Conceptual Plan (2015)

Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve
“The Southwestern region of Nova Scotia was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2001. It is one of only 18 ecosystems in Canada with this special designation. Our local governments, businesses and communities recognized the special qualities of our natural and cultural heritage, and joined together to help create our biosphere reserve. The Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve Association seeks to balance the conservation of nature and cultural heritage with sustainable resource development to support prosperous local economies and healthy communities. Learn more about the Southwest Nova Biosphere, see the Biosphere Map, and FAQs about biospheres. Our newsletters feature in-depth articles on ecosystems, environmental threats, etc and highlight Biosphere projects.”

More recent items at top


Lichen Camp & The proposal to protect the Goldsmith Lake Wilderness Area
Page on this website

BDO Zone Initiative issues an “A-rating” for Southwest Nova Scotia as a location to develop “Bioeconomy Projects” 4Feb2024
Post on Feb 4, 2024. “This latest “Bioeconomy” initiative would involve use of 550,000 green metric tons per year of sawmill residuals and by-product wood fibre from the forest sector. In the formal BDO Zone Report, cautions are expressed that are not amongst the highlights cited in PR lit about about the Bioeconomy prospects for SW Nova Scotia and presumably are amongst the reasons that a higher rating (AAA or AA versus the A-rating given) was not realized, e.g. related to nutrient limitations, uncertainty about buy-in of private woodlot owners, sustainability concerns and associated public opinion. The concept in NS goes back to Dexter NDP Days and dreams of “Cellufuel” and other biorefinery products replacing the markets for residuals and low grade wood lost with closure of the Bowater Mill…”


AP068499 Beals Meadow
On NS Forest Notes. A compilation of news items, post etc related to the “Last Hope Wildlife Corridor encampment*” set up by The Forest Protectors” & Extinction Rebellion Mi’kma’ki/Nova Scotia on Nov 1, 2021 and lasting to June 21, 2022. ““This longest day of the year, we are celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day AND we are celebrating the fact that 60% of the Last Hope forest is now completely off-limits to cutting…Thanks to lichenologists and licheneers, 17 occurrences of three different Species at Risk lichens have now been reported to DNRR and the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre.With each occurrence getting a 100 m buffer around it, the remaining 10 hectare section of the original cut block is harder to access and even less appealing $$$wise.As a result we have decided it is time to pack up and go home. Tomorrow, Last Hope camp will morph into the Last Hope campaign.This does NOT mean we are walking away from this forest…”

Nova Scotia forest defenders score legal victory
by Robert Devet March 11, 2021 in “In a decision dated March 11, Justice Kevin Coady found that Westfor had indeed made a convincing case against Extinction Rebellion and the individuals engaged in the blockades, and that the earlier injunction was valid. However, he refused to issue the future constraints Westfor had sought to impose on the forest defenders.”

Westfor Management Inc. V. Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia Association.
SUPREME COURT OF NOVA SCOTIA (Heard: January 26, 2021, in Halifax, Nova Scotia Written Decision: March 11, 2021)

Ecojustice defends Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia Association against injunction Dec 18, 2021 “From October to mid December, members of Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia Association in collaboration with other groups and citizens peacefully protested by camping out and blocking access to Crown lands in order to draw attention to the Department of Lands and Forestry’s continued failure to uphold the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act and protect Mainland Moose habitat. On Dec. 11, however, the protesters were served with an injunction obtained by WestFor Management Inc. Ecojustice is representing Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia Association in defence against this injunction.”

Mainland moose protectors in court to defend right to safeguard species habitat Jan 25, 2021. “HALIFAX/K’JIPUKTUK, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE MI’KMAQ PEOPLE – Conservation groups and concerned citizens will appear before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court tomorrow to defend their right to peacefully protest clearcutting in endangered Mainland moose habitat in Nova Scotia. In fall 2020, members of Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia Association and concerned citizens began blocking access to an area of Crown land to draw attention to the Department of Lands and Forestry’s continued failure to uphold the Nova Scotia Endangered Species Act and protect Mainland moose habitat.”


Mersey-Bowater lands shouldn’t be clearcut
Opinion by John Himmelman Dec. 19, 2018.  In Saltwire

A decade ago, an immense community effort, referred to as the “Buy Back the Mersey” movement, led the Nova Scotian government to purchase the Mersey-Bowater lands, some of which are just inland from St. Margarets Bay — a great move. The area is easy to reach for many residents in the southern outskirts of HRM and is widely used for camping, Scouting, hiking, four-wheelers, dog walking, fishing and just exploring nature. At the same time, it provides wildlife habitat and connectivity with the Chebucto Peninsula. The forests sequester carbon dioxide — so urgently needed to mitigate climate change. In 2016, the community was appalled by the then Department of Natural Resources’ proposal for massive clearcuts on these lands. Some of these cuts were deferred, particularly in response to criticism of cuts near the Scouts Canada camp on Scout Island…

Turning protesters into pets
Lind Pannozzo in the Halifax Examiner Dec 14, 2018″…The land was previously owned by Liverpool pulp giant Resolute Forest Products (formerly Bowater Mersey). In 2011 the Nova Scotia government offered Resolute a $50 million “rescue package,” which apparently wasn’t enough to keep the company afloat because in 2012 the company announced it would shut down and sell its assets; the Nova Scotia government became the buyer. That purchase was a move supported by the SMBSA [St. Margaret’s Bay Stewardship Association], which spearheaded the campaign to “Buy Back the Mersey Lands.” More than 30 groups joined in at the time with the vision of protecting ecologically sensitive areas, exploring options for a Community Forest, and expanding value-added production. But it didn’t quite turn out that way. In 2014 the department announced it had divvied up half of the former Bowater lands to WestFor for a period of 10 years. WestFor was given access to cut a total of more than half a million hectares of crown land. In addition, near the end of its mandate the NDP government secretly allocated 125,000 tonnes per year from the new lands to Northern Pulp — effectively more than doubling the amount of wood allocated to the Pictou County pulp giant from crown lands.”

Southwest Nova Scotia is ground zero for soil nutrient depletion (especially calcium) and severe acidification of surface waters.

Biodiverse Southwest Nova Scotia at Risk
Post on NSFN Oct 29, 2018
Why is Biodiverse Southwest Nova Scotia is at Risk?
Two major issues from a biodiversity perspective
(i) Connectivity of habitat
(ii) Soil nutrient depletion/severe acidification of surface waters
A few links
Some related comments on WWNS and HFC Facebook Pages

= An optimistic perspective about the future of Nova Scotia forests and forestry from “The Boot
Post on NSFN apr 4, 2018 “..When Bowater-Mersey/Resolute pulled up stakes, Geoff spearheaded the Buy Back the Mersey Campaign, which was also ultimately successful, the Dexter government buying the lands on behalf the people of Nova Scotia (and also saving saving the Bowater-Mersey workers’ pension when Resolute was about to walk away). However efforts to establish a St. Margaret’s Bay Community Forest were rebuffed by government/NSDNR (although the Medway Community Forest proposal, also linked to the Buy Back the Mersey campaign, was accepted). The government also made a secret deal with Northern Pulp giving them access to those lands, and others cut old trees on sensitive lands just east of Panuke Lake . The McNeil government of 2014 in turn spawned a deal with 16 mills (later known as WestFor) that would give them access to all of the western Crown lands, following a script pretty well written by NSDNR.”


More cutting near protected areas in Nova Scotia, now the Tobeatic
Post on NSFN Oct 10, 2017 “Landscape level planning for biodiversity conservation appears to be lacking in Crown land harvest decisions”. Also view The legacy of Nova Scotia’s Tobeatic wilderness. Post on NSFN, Oct 22, 2017, by Alain Belliveau. “Naturalist Alain Belliveau has been concerned about harvesting in the Tobeatic Wildlife Management Area and realized that few people know what the Sanctuary / Wildlife Management Area is all about, so wrote an essay about it.”

Nova Scotia government abandons strict forest certification for former Bowater Mersey land
BY MICHAEL GORMAN in Halifax Examiner, Mar 1, 2016

Panuke Lake Harvest Review
See Department of Natural Resources Opens Up Environmentally Sensitive Area for Clearcutting (EAC, Sep 14. 2014) for the event that triggered this process.

2013- 2014

What Ever Became of Buy Back the Mersey? Nova Scotia Forestry, Oct 9, 2014. “Two years ago… …right here at this very spot, Hubley, NS, the province-wide Buy Back the Mersey movement was born. Thousands of volunteer hours later, the province did just that – they bought back the former Bowater-Mersey lands. We thought we’d won, that all our hard work to ensure that we, Nova Scotians, would finally have a say in the management of our own resource had succeeded. But guess what? We were wrong. The opposite is happening. We are being marginalized, ignored, and opposed at every turn. Our own Department of Natural Resources is licensing harvest on OUR lands, with no transparency, no accountability, and no assurance of good practices. It’s same old same old, only worse.”

Secret deal with Northern Pulp `seriously undermines` Western Crown Lands Consultation
EAC, Feb 4, 2014 “A secret deal made with Northern Pulp last January will more than double the company`s annual supply of wood from Crown land in Nova Scotia. The deal was made a month before the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began the Western Crown Lands Planning Process, a public consultation process to decide how to best use Crown lands in Western Nova Scotia – some of which Northern had already been given rights to harvest.”

Community Consultation on Bowater-Mersey Land Is Optimistic. But Have We Been Down This Road Before?
By Jen Stotland on Halifax Media Coop, Apr 11, 2013

From Buy Back the Mersey Group Archive 2012-2014
Buy Back the Mersey Poster (Oct 17, 2014 MM)
RALLY NOTICE (Oct 17, 2014 MM)
Back_Country_6_19_12 (July 18, 2012, FLB)
SLOGAN (July 20, 2012, Geoff LeBoutilier)
Jim Fryday Letter (1) (July 20, 2012, GLB)

Public Consultation and Engagement Process Crown Lands Use Western Region: SUMMARY REPORT
NS Department of Natural Resources May 15, 2013. “In December of 2012, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources acquired Bowater lands in western Nova Scotia. When added to current Crown land holdings, approximately 1.5 million acres of Crown land lie west of the line created by Highways 333, 213, 102 and 101 running from St. Margarets Bay to the Avon River in Windsor. In order to ensure the best sustainable use of the Crown lands, in January 2013 the Department initiated a Crown Land Planning Process for Western Nova Scotia.


Bowater Land Purchase – Announced December 2012
NS Government Dec 10, 2012. “Premier Darrell Dexter announced today, Dec. 10, that the province has negotiated an agreement with Resolute Forest Products and the Washington Post Company to purchase all Bowater Mersey shares for $1.”

N.S. buys land from Bowater
CBC News · Posted: Jan 06, 2012 “Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and the manager of the Bowater Mersey Paper Co. Ltd. mill near Liverpool announced details of a $23.75-million land purchase on Friday. The province will buy 10,117 hectares of land in five counties in western Nova Scotia from the struggling mill…The land includes forests, old-growth timber stands, ocean and lake frontage, wetlands and some land of cultural significance to the Mi’kmaq. The largest parcel of 5,665 hectares is in Annapolis County. Most of the land will be used for conservation and approximately 404 hectares have been set aside for the Mi’kmaq for any future land claim settlements.

N.S. premier mum on future of Bowater Mersey mill
Andrea Jerrett CTV Atlantic, June 14, 2012 “Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter seems to be preparing Queen County residents for grim news about one of the area’s largest employers. A temporary shutdown of the Bowater Mersey paper mill in Brooklyn, N.S. is scheduled for Sunday but a warning from the premier suggests the situation could be more serious. However, Dexter wouldn’t answer whether the mill is going to close permanently. Last December he announced a $50-million assistance plan to keep the mill operating.


BowaterTuesday, July 17th 2011: Buy Back the Mersey Rally
The Invite: “A Rally/Information Session to address options for the Bowater-Mersey Lands will be held at 7 p.m. at the Hubley Community Hall, 4408 St. Margaret’s Bay Road. There is lot’s at stake for forestry, recreation, conservation – please attend! Read More