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About New Brunswick's forests

Acadian / Wabanaki Forest

New Brunswick is located in the Acadian Forest Region (AFR), also know as the Wabanaki Forest.  The AFR includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspe region of Quebec, and stretches down to the Northeastern United States (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York).  Where the warm, moist influence of the Gulf Stream from the south collides with the cold Labrador Current, ithe AFR is a transition zone between Northern Hardwood Forest and the Boreal Forest, and contains a mix of trees from both of those ecosystems.

The forest makeup changes depending on “topography, geology, and proximity to the ocean.”   For example, acidic soils near bogs give rise to black spruce, tamarack, and black ash.  Sugar maple, yellow birch, and red oak prefer fertile soils that are moist, but moderately drained.


photo by Nature Conservancy Canada

The original inhabitants of the AFR are the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik, and Passamaquoddy.  Prior to European settlement, old growth “covered an estimated 50 percent of the land” and “pine, hemlock, cedar, spruce, fir, and a number of hardwood species” dominated.  These trees “could reach 300 years of age” and “towered over the landscape forming an unbroken canopy” that stretched across the maritime provinces and the Northeastern United States.

The Acadian Forest changed drastically with colonization.  When settlers found the unbroken forests, they saw economic opportunity:  “White pine and, later, red spruce and other species were harvested for European shipbuilding and lumber markets and for local construction and fuel.  Hemlock bark provided tannins for the fur trade and leather industry, while the wood became timbers for railway ties.”

Forests were also cleared for fields and pastures after settlers realized that the “most productive soils were found under the best stands of trees.”  Clearing the land was seen as a way of taming it and creating livable spaces that resembled settlers’ homelands.



Jenna Amirault,

Loo, J.A.; Ives, N.

The Acadian forest: historical condition and human impacts. 2003. The Forestry Chronicle 79: 462-474.


Jamie Simpson. 2008. Restoring the Acadian Forest: A Guide to Forest Stewardship for Woodlot Owners in Eastern Canada. Nimbus Publishing Limited.

David Weale. 1983. “The Gloomy Forest.” The Island Magazine.


Appalachian Hardwood Forest

The Appalachian Hardwood Forest (AHF) is the name given to the hardwoods of the St. John River Valley between Keswick Ridge and Grand Falls.  They are different from all other hardwoods in New Brunswick.  Trees of this forest include basswood, elm, and butternut and 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.  You will know you’re in AHF when you see tall forests of sugar maple, beech, and ash with cool, shady conditions and a lush green understory.  AHFs are not just home to rare plants – they are wildlife sanctuaries for black bears, fishers, pileated woodpeckers, many songbirds, and even barred owls.  AHFs are one of the most threatened types of forest in New Brunswick.  We stand to lose something very special in the Carleton, Victoria and York Counties. These forests once covered 500,000 acres before settlement, today less than 1% is left.

from Appalachian Hardwood Forest Species Guide, 2022.  The Nature Trust of NB

There are MANY books, articles, research papers, etc. that have additional information regarding New Brunswicks forest.  Click HERE to view some suggestions if you are interested in learning more!

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