Conserving Forested Waterways in Atlantic Canada

The Active River Area
Why this project matters
Well‑managed forests conserve sources of clean water. Over half the drinking water in the U.S. and nearly two‑thirds in Canada comes from forests. The Active River Area framework is a tool to measure the contribution of forests to freshwater ecosystem function and health. The first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, the framework classifies all habitats associated with freshwater ecosystems while recognizing the range of hydrological conditions typical of natural aquatic systems. To be completed for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, it will bring an integrated hydrogeological-ecological approach to freshwater modelling, management, and climate change mitigation.
Why is SFI involved?
The Active River Area project will provide a framework to measure the impacts that forestlands certified to SFI have on water quality, climate change resilience and biodiversity. By delineating and mapping the various components of a complete freshwater ecosystem, forest harvesting plans can be assessed against their potential impact. The Active River Area framework can inform management plans by directing lower-impact harvesting toward areas within the Active River Area to minimize the ecological and hydrological impacts in sensitive areas. Floodplain mapping will allow SFI Program Participants to demonstrate the contribution of managed forests to floodwater retention and control. The framework can inform where ecological restoration will improve floodplain connectivity to better mitigate the impacts of flooding on downstream communities, particularly in relation to climate change.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
This project is a collaborative effort that involves a core team representing SFI Program Participants, government, ENGOs, and academia. The project will also involve technical input through a contract with the original Active River Area developers at The Nature Conservancy. The project scope includes all of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and the scalability of the project will allow partners to demonstrate the value of SFI certification at local, provincial and regional scales.
Nature Conservancy Canada will reach out to provincial and municipal governments and host webinars and in-person information sessions to promote the use of the Active River Area framework, citing support from SFI. Nature Conservancy Canada will seek out opportunities to present the results of the analysis at science workshops and events held throughout the Maritimes. There is also a proposal to present the project at a conference hosted by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities held each fall in Halifax. Upon completion of the project, Nature Conservancy Canada is prepared to present at the SFI Annual Conference to promote the scalability of the analysis with potential use in other jurisdictions across Canada and the United States.
This partnership includes conservationists, government officials, academics and forestry professionals.
  • Project lead: Nature Conservancy of Canada (Atlantic Region)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Maritime SFI Implementation Committee
  • New Brunswick Department of Energy and Resource Development
  • World Wildlife Fund Canada
  • Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
  • Dalhousie University
  • Nature New Brunswick
  • Government of Nova Scotia
Related information
  • Water quality is one of three focal areas for the SFI Conservation Impact Project.
  • SFI presented at Nature Conservancy of Canada’s “Why Forests Matter” speaker series held in Calgary, Montreal and Toronto and discussed the many benefits forests bring, the importance of responsible forest management and how SFI stands for future forests.
  • Nature Conservancy of Canada, Earth Rangers and SFI Want to Make Life Less Scary for Amphibians at Halloween and All Year Round (media release).
  • U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities: Engaging the Water Community in Determining Financial Value and Instruments for Watershed Service Projects (media release).
About Nature Conservancy Canada
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is Canada’s leading land conservation organization, working to protect valuable natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain. Since 1962, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and its partners have helped to protect more than 2 million acres/800,000 hectares coast to coast. Through strong partnerships, the Nature Conservancy of Canada works to safeguard natural areas so that our children and grandchildren will have the chance to enjoy them.