A few months back when I was at a forestry conference, I heard about an old growth forest in Nova Scotia. Since we moved here, we’ve been amazed at just how little all the trees were here, but then we learned there has been forest harvesting here for centuries!
At the conference, I heard there was a stand of old growth red spruce near Abraham Lake, but because of the spruce bark beetle infestation, the old growth red spruce would all be gone in a couple of years.
I told Jeff about it and he checked out his maps. Since it looked like the area was accessible by bush roads only, we waited until later in the spring for the roads to firm up.
Today we took at a stab at finding the area, and not only did we find it on our first attempt, it turned out there were two hiking trails through the old growth forest!!
In 1971, the forestry company in charge of the area took the old growth area out of its operating plans and gave it to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Unfortunately, forests can not be preserved forever. The red spruce are the biggest spruce I’ve ever seen – maybe the biggest trees I’ve ever seen in Eastern Canada. But the spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) – the same beetle responsible for all the dead white spruce around our house – has hit every single one of the old trees that we saw. Even the hemlock were attacked. There is no doubt that within 1-2 years there won’t be a single one left standing.
Spruce beetle leaves holes ALL over the bark of the tree:
The adult beetle bore through the bark and lay their eggs inside of the tree. When the larvae hatch, they feed inside of the tree, burrowing tunnels through the tree that quickly girdle and kill the tree.
This tree, a giant red spruce, is recently dead, but still standing, so I gave it a hug!
The tops of the trees die, and because they become so hollow, they often either blow completely over, or are snapped in half by the wind.
The forest was quiet and really dark in places. A rain storm was on its way, but luckily it held off AND the black flies and mosquitoes weren’t very active!
Look at all the green moss everywhere. Many forests in the Acadian forest have a bed of moss because it is so moist out here.
See how hollow this one is before it snapped in half?
We also saw many hemlock trees, and a few white pines.
I was trying to trick you into thinking this log was so tall that only my head was poking over the top, but, well, it didn’t work.
I was hugging this big dead one tight to my chest and you can still only see my hands. These are big trees!
The trail we took stopped at the lake half way through its loop. Abraham Lake is a beautiful calm clear lake.
Here is a nice big yellow birch:
Mandatory self portraits!