The Appalachian Hardwood Forest
APRI 28, 2023 — Did you know that Appalachian Hardwood Forests (AHF) house the greatest species diversity of all New Brunswick’s forests?
Nature NB caught up with Carli le Roux, Conservation Manager with the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, to learn more about AHF and what we can do to help this unique forest type.
Carli, can you tell us a little about yourself? What organization do you work for and what is its mission? Where are you from and how did you get into conservation work?
My name is Carli le Roux and I work at the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, based out of Fredericton. Our organization has been around since 1987 and in that time, we have established more than 70 beautiful and diverse nature preserves throughout the province! The goal of our organization is threefold; to conserve ecologically significant lands in New Brunswick forever, steward our preserves with the help of the community, and engage with the public on the importance of land conservation, New Brunswick’s natural heritage, biodiversity, and species at risk.
I started working with the Nature Trust in the summer of 2015 as a Stewardship Assistant, and then transitioned to the conservation department where I am now the Conservation Manager. I grew up in South Africa which instilled in me a great appreciation for wildlife conservation and the protection of the natural world. I completed a BSc in Conservation Ecology at Stellenbosch University in 2010, after which I worked in the conservation volunteer industry in various locations in southern Africa for over three years. After moving to Canada, I became involved with the Nature Trust which has only furthered my passion for conservation.
So, tell us about AHF. What is this forest type all about? Why is it threatened?
AHF is the name given to one of the most floristically diverse forest types of New Brunswick. They are hardwood forests that exist in western New Brunswick between Keswick Ridge and Grand Falls and are characterized by specific tree and plant species, as well as a rich soil type. These forests once covered 500,000 acres before settlement, but forestry and agricultural development have left us with less than 1% remaining. Because of this, AHF is one of the most threatened types of forest in New Brunswick. We stand to lose something very special without the support to protect and restore these forests and the species that rely on it.
What are some of the benefits of these sites for biodiversity?
AHF has a distinct assemblage of species and is home to more than 180 trees, understory plants, and lichen/mosses, with 43 of these being rare! This forest has tall sugar maple, beech, and ash with cool, shady conditions and a lush green understory. Trees of this forest include basswood, elm, and butternut. Ecologically sensitive areas like wet, seeping areas and spring drainages are home to spring wildflowers and other plants that are extremely rare in the Maritimes. There are also many birds that call this forest home, such as Barred Owl, Broad-winged Hawk, Eastern Wood Peewee, Ovenbird, Pileated Woodpecker, and Veery, as well as mammals such as fisher and bobcat. AHF is a rich refuge for many of our fellow species in New Brunswick.
Why should people care about AHF?
AHF houses the greatest species diversity of all New Brunswick’s hardwood forests, and many of the understory plants are found nowhere else in Atlantic Canada. This means we have something special in New Brunswick that we should treasure. Many people are surprised to know we have such unique plant life just under our noses and take on a new appreciation for the woods in New Brunswick after learning about the Appalachian hardwood forest. With everyone working together, we can protect these habitats which we are losing more of every year.
What can the average person do to help these forests?
At the Nature Trust we believe that if we’re going to preserve what’s left of these forests, conservationists, farmers, woodlot owners, foresters, and members of the public will all have to play a role in the effort. If you suspect that you or a friend may have AHF on your property, please reach out to the Nature Trust of New Brunswick and we will explore your woods with you to see if you have this unique forest. If you don’t have forest, but would still like to help support this effort, you can donate to the Nature Trust where we are working to protect AHF forever.
For more information or to help with conservation efforts for AHF, please visit the Nature Trust of New Brunswick’s website or contact Carli le Roux at (506) 457-2398 / email@example.com.