Damascus, NB (Photo by NCC)

Damascus, NB (Photo by NCC)

Rare old-growth forest protected near Saint John

September 8, 2020
Saint John, New Brunswick


Nature Conservancy of Canada saves centuries-old trees, helps local drinking water

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has announced the purchase of rare, old-growth forest in Damascus, northeast of Saint John. Had the 80 hectares (199 acres) not been conserved, it was in danger of being lost to logging due to its high timber value.

The non-profit organization acquired the land primarily to protect this gem of a property, but also because of its location within Saint John’s Loch Lomond watershed. Its conservation will help protect the quality and quantity of drinking water for city residents, while providing habitat for wildlife. 

NCC prioritized the site for conservation, as less than five per cent of mature Acadian forest — the original type of forest in the Maritimes —- remains intact due to centuries of settlement and harvesting. Old growth Acadian forest supports a high diversity of plant species and provides habitat for wildlife and species at risk.  

The former landowners, Marshall and Bernadette Fowler, entrusted the property to NCC for conservation, and donated some of the land value. The Fowler-Bell property features many centuries-old trees, including sugar maple, yellow birch, red maple, white ash, beech and ironwood, typical of the species found in old Acadian forest. As a significant donor, NCC offered the option of naming the property. The name Marshall Fowler chose represents both sides of his family with history stewarding this land. 

NCC biologists have conducted a preliminary inventory and spotted many wildlife species on the property, including moose, white-tailed deer, beaver, ruffed grouse, porcupine, wood frog, mink frog and eastern newt.  In addition to Marshall and Bernadette Fowler, this project was also generously supported by individuals, private donors and funding from the Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, part of Canada’s Nature Fund.  


“We are excited to establish a new nature reserve and protect such an impressive example of old Acadian forest. It’s a beautiful and unique home to a huge diversity of plants and wildlife, thanks to the excellent stewardship of the Fowler/Bell family. We are thankful they have entrusted NCC with caring for this site for future generations. Old-growth forests give other community benefits; they prevent erosion, purify the air, and their deep, interconnected roots help store and filter water.”  - Paula Noël, New Brunswick Program Director, Nature Conservancy of Canada  

 "After having the property for sale for several years, we couldn't seem to part with it because buyers wanted to simply cut the wood and move on to the next piece of ground. This property has some very old and interesting trees and we would like them to remain, to continue to seed the future, and we would like other trees to have the opportunity to get as old." - Marshall and Bernadette Fowler, landowners 

“Thanks in part to the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, the Nature Conservancy of Canada will be conserving a piece of old Acadian forest in New Brunswick. Conservation of this important piece of land will help provide habitat for wildlife and quality drinking water to city residents. With help from partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada and generous landowners like the Fowlers, we are making progress toward our goal of conserving a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of its oceans by 2025.”   - The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change


Acadian forest is a diverse forest, made up of 40-50 species of trees, including sugar maple, red maple, American beech, eastern hemlock, white pine, yellow birch, white birch, trembling aspen, tamarack, balsam fir and black spruce. Less than five per cent of this original forest type remains in the Maritimes. 

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Twitter:  @NCC_CNC and @NCC_CNCMedia  


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected 32,845 hectares (81,163 acres) of ecologically significant land in Atlantic Canada. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.  

The Government of Canada’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program (NHCP) is a unique public-private partnership to support new protected and conserved areas by securing private lands and private interests in lands. The program is managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Federal funds invested in the program are matched with contributions raised by NCC and its partners, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the country’s land trust community. 

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