Team of Dalhousie researchers to study Nova Scotia forests

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HALIFAX: A team of forestry researchers led by Dalhousie University is receiving $1.57 million to undertake research on Nova Scotia’s forests and the industries and communities who depend upon them.  

The new project forms the cornerstone of Research Nova Scotia’s (RNS) forestry research program, which seeks to identify and convene research that will support Nova Scotia’s transition to an ecological forestry model. Operated in partnership with the Forestry Innovation Transition Trust (FITT), the program includes economic, ecological, and social components of forestry, to develop a holistic understanding of where the sector is going, and how to help get there in a sustainable and equitable way. 

“This research investment is a significant step forward in the implementation of our forestry research agenda,” says Stefan Leslie, CEO of RNS. “This interprovincial work will help build knowledge, address gaps, and identify opportunities to support the transition to sustainable forestry in Nova Scotia.”


The five-year research project will measure how changing forestry practices impact biodiversity and landscape connectivity, evaluate recreation opportunities arising from changing forestry practices, value carbon as part of forest lands in the province, investigate and undertake effective knowledge exchange with woodlot stewards and operators and registered professional foresters, and support Mi’kmaq-led forestry. 

“Collaboration and community engagement are key components of our research project,” says Dr. Alana Westwood, lead researcher from Dalhousie University.

“It’s important to ensure that people who work in and live near Nova Scotia’s forests are part of our research.”

Dr. Westwood and her research team will undertake a suite of targeted initiatives to study the impacts of a changing forest relating to biodiversity, habitat connectivity, carbon sequestration and valuation, and opportunities for human recreation, while collaborating with partners across the forest sector.


The project is receiving the funding grant from RNS through a partnership with the FITT. RNS’s partnership with the Trust began in 2021 with the development of “Bringing Focus to Forestry,” a research agenda that uncovered and highlighted the knowledge gaps facing Nova Scotia’s forestry transition.

“The subsequent forestry research program is funded jointly by FITT and RNS to provide approximately $6.5 million in research funding to projects that pursue key questions from the agenda, in support of the province’s forestry community. Dr. Westwood’s project forms a major component of the program and its fulfillment of the agenda.

Dr. Westwood is joined by co-investigators Dr. Brandon Heung of Dalhousie University, Dr. Erin Cameron of Saint Mary’s University, and Dr. Anthony Taylor from the University of New Brunswick. 


This multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research project addresses multiple streams of research, connecting social and biological sciences.

The project team includes collaborators from the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Laval University, Carlton University, Natural Resources Canada.

Eskasoni Fish and Wildlife Commission, Nova Scotia Community College Centre of Forest Innovation, Boreal Avian Modelling Project, Hillside Consulting Ltd., Medway Community Forest Co-op, and Mersey-Tobeatic Research Institute.