My Summer with the Trees

Originally published October 2017

Written by MCFC intern Freya Clark

Working for the Medway Community Forest Co-op this summer was amazing, educational and fun. The time just flew by! Over the course of the summer I got to learn and do so many practical and  interesting things including: helping to plan for the Seven Mile Lake Fire Burn Tour and the Old Growth Forest Tour; learning about Old Growth Forest Tallying with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and putting this training into practice through a partnership with the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI); completing inventories for Pre Commercial Thinnings (PCTs); assisting with Pre-Treatment Assessments (PTAs) with Mary Jane Rodger; and planning the Forest Products Market in Annapolis Royal.

Another perk of working with the MCFC is nearby Kejimkujik!

Another perk of working with the MCFC is nearby Kejimkujik!

Forest Tours

It was not hard to find people to lead tours this summer as there are many educated and passionate people in the area. It was exciting to hear our knowledgeable tour leaders talk about the subjects that they are passionate about. We had good turnouts for both tours, particularly the Seven Mile Lake Fire Tour as that fire touched many people in the region.  Another burn tour is being planned for next year and there will be more in following years so that we can learn together about the process of forest regeneration in real time.

Old Growth Forest Tallying

I also had the opportunity to learn about and practice Old Growth Forest Tallying this summer. In July, I was invited to a Forest Tally training session with DNR. Old Growth Forest Tallying is the measure of forest age that is approved by DNR. The method uses several different measures including tree diameter, height, and standing up and laying down dead wood. I put my training to use on the MCFC working with Colin Gray from MTRI.  Together we were able to identify interesting patches of old growth forest. An added benefit of working in old growth forest areas in the summer is that, because they tend to be hemlock stands, they are drastically cooler than other types of forest – wonderful places to be on a hot day!

Pre-Commercial Thinning

Another interesting aspect of my job was to work with a student from DNR conducting some assessments to determine whether Pre Commercial Thinnings (PCTs) were needed in parts of the MCFC. PCTs are used to remove excess lower quality trees in an area in order to reduce competition and allow the remaining trees to grow larger and wider. When stands are assessed to determine whether PCTs are necessary, we look at how densely treed the area is to determine how many, if any, need to be removed. Tree heights are another important measurement because if PCTs are done when trees are too short they won’t grow straight. One of my favorite side benefits of assessing PCT sites was eating blueberries and huckleberries. We were mainly working in old Bowater clearcuts – ideal spots for fruits that like disturbed sites!

Forest Products Market

The planning and implementation of the Forest Products Market was my final task of the summer. It was a great event to work on and a big success. We had over twenty fabulous and talented participating vendors with a wide array of products. It was great to witness all the hard work coming together and to watch the vendors interact with each other and the public. We even got some new collaboration ideas for the future. The event was very well received and so many requests were made for a repeat that we will be putting on the market again next summer. I look forward to planning it.

All in all working as the Summer Intern at the Medway Community Forest was an excellent opportunity for me - I had a great summer. I learned many new things and got to put them into practice and it was an experience that was particularly relevant to my university studies in Forestry.  It’s not every job that makes you excited for the work week but I genuinely enjoyed every day that I was working. I am so looking forward to coming back next summer and enjoying another season of learning and helping out with the important work of the community forest.  Thank you so much to Mary Jane and the Board for the experience.

Mary Jane Rodger