One of the commonly cited reasons for not doing something to combat climate change or loss of biodiversity is that one person cannot make a difference. But John F. Kennedy said that one person can make a difference, and everyone should try. In fact, we all know of countless individuals who have made a difference in the world in spite of the odds and the obstacles. Some of these people are famous, some are historical figures and some are in our local neighbourhoods. Bev Wigney is one such individual who decided to make a difference.
Bev has been interested in nature all her life. She and her late husband who was also very interested in nature, used to hike and canoe in every spare hour and kept very detailed field notes on their observations. They had a farm near Ottawa for 35 years and managed it partly for their dairy goat herd, but also for nature. Around 2003, she began doing a lot of insect photography and many of her photos have been used in books, magazines, videos, museum exhibits, etc.. In 2008, her husband died and Bev decided to sell the farm and move to Nova Scotia. Besides being an avid naturalist, Bev does wood carvings and she manages a Facebook page she started. We asked her a few questions about the group she started and about their work.
What group did you start and why?
I started the "Annapolis Royal & Area Environment & Ecology" group on Facebook. It's an interest group that I started to help unite people when a few of us in the Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown area were trying to halt a forest harvest on a Crown land forest called Hardwood Hill. The group also promotes learning about nature.
What sorts of activities, projects, initiatives does the group undertake?
Mainly, we share information. When there is an action that should be
taken, such as writing letters, signing petitions, etc.. we communicate on Facebook and do what we can. We have also done ground-truthing of forests -- going out to see what's there, what trees, what kind of birds, etc... to help us to defend forests from inappropriate harvest prescriptions.
Can you tell us how you and your group were involved with halting, at least temporarily, a logging operation in a forest near Bridgetown last year?
pristine section of Crown land between the two lakes. Annapolis
County has a long established recreational canoe route through the
lakes and a canal at the south end of the peninsula. I saw the
parcels on the peninsula come up on the HPMV (Harvest Plans Map Viewer) in December 2018. I was disgusted to think that they were going to log in this particularly unique forest. I put the word out on our Annapolis Royal & Area Environment & Ecology group. A bunch of interested people showed up to do a ground-truthing walk around the forest on Boxing Day, December 2018. We found that the logging had already taken place and that there was already a new logging road constructed down the centre of
the peninsula. Lands & Forestry defended the construction of the road and the cutting that had taken place, saying that the parcels were listed on the HPMV "by accident" and were already approved. Using our FB group, we coordinated letter writing and petitions trying to stop any more cutting. Around that time, Extinction Rebellion was getting going in Nova Scotia and a group formed in the Bridgetown area. They discussed the idea of having a demonstration and also a blockade when we were told by L&F that they intended to allow more cutting to take place on the peninsula. Fortunately, Scott & Paula Leslie (Scott is a noted naturalist and photographer) found a Magnolia Warbler on a nest in the forest -- and Scott and I saw Chimney Swifts over the forest on a recon trip. Under the Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA), there should have been no cutting and destruction of birds.
Scott's persistence combined with some good media coverage helped to get things stopped as Min. of Environment and Climate Change was pretty much pushed into enforcing the MBCA.
In the end, we were told that the logging wasn't going to happen that
summer. I took our signed petition to Stephen McNeil and met with him
at his constituency office in Summer 2019. He said that he would see
about having the property looked a for ecological value and that
nothing would happen to it before we were notified. That's pretty
much how things have stood for awhile. It's not protected. However,
we keep watch over that area via a couple of people who live in the
What can you tell us about the migratory birds that come to nest in south-west Nova Scotia? Where do they go in the fall?
Nova Scotia is a very important province for nesting birds, especially
those migrating up the eastern side of North America. Birds that
spend winters in Mexico, South and Central America, and the southeast
United States, make their way to Canada each spring to build their
nests, hatch and feed their young in preparation for the return flight
to their wintering territories. The peak season for nesting is about
the third week of May to about the third week of July.
When we go to the grocery store as informed and concerned
consumers, we look for ethically and locally-sourced products, and if
we don’t see them, we can request that the store bring them in. In this
way, we vote with our wallets. Do you think we should do the same
thing when we buy lumber or hire a contractor?
It's a fair question. Many of us are already asking this. We want to
know that the wood we are buying is harvested from a responsibly
managed forest and not a clearcut or an almost clear cut called a
variable retention cut. Consumers should be willing to reject wood
from poorly managed forests, just like we have come to a point where
we reject rare woods from tropical regions.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
(Pictured below is one of Bev’s wood carvings: Flounder)