‘Rare, old-growth forest’ near Saint John purchased to protect wildlife and local drinking water

Image of the purchased property in Damascus, northeast of Saint John. The Nature Conservancy of Canada

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced Tuesday the purchase of a “rare, old-growth forest” in Damascus, northeast of Saint John, that was in danger of being lost due to its high timber value.

The NCC said old-growth Acadian forests support a diverse number of plant species, such as 40 to 50 different kinds of trees, including sugar maple, red maple, American beech, and eastern hemlock.

Image taken of the Acadian forest. (The Nature Conservancy of Canada).

According to the non-profit organization, “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.” For that reason, the site was prioritized for conservation.

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The NCC also said it purchased the 80-hectare piece of land 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,” said the NCC in a press release.

READ MORE: N.B. conservation groups say ‘serious action’ needed, more Crown land needs to be protected

The NCC said many wildlife species were spotted on the property by biologists, including moose, white-tailed deer, beaver, ruffed grouse, porcupine, wood frog, mink frog and eastern newt.

The former landowners, Marshall and Bernadette Fowler, entrusted the property to NCC for conservation, and donated some of the land value.

“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,” said the organization.

The forest will be known as the Fowler-Bell property.

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