A tree-mendous effort concludes!
Over 20 Mi’kmaw youth helped plant trees and conduct seedling survival monitoring on the Skyline trail during the 2017 Nikani Awtiken Youth Camp in August.
Over 20 Mi’kmaw youth helped plant trees and conduct seedling survival monitoring on the Skyline trail during the 2017 Nikani Awtiken Youth Camp in August.

Thousands of trees have been planted by professionals and volunteers, including school groups, families, university students and participants in the Nikani Awtiken youth camp in the past four years.

Tree planting has now been completed.

Huge thanks to over 2,700 volunteers who clocked an amazing 2,500 hours planting trees! A total of 57,000 trees were planted!


It's all about the science
A Parks Canada student volunteer from Germany measures moose browse impacts on a struggling balsam fir tree.
A Parks Canada student volunteer from Germany measures moose browse impacts on a struggling balsam fir tree.

Research is a big part of this project. It involves:

  • Conducting browse surveys to measure moose impacts on tree growth on North and French Mountains. The amount of healthy tree regrowth on North Mountain, where the moose harvest occurs, is compared to that on French Mountain to see the effect of reducing moose.
  • Monitoring the growth of newly planted seedlings on the Skyline trail inside and outside the fenced-in area (exclosure). The monitoring of tree growth on the Skyline helps determine which trees and method of planting and soil type result in the best tree growth.

What’s involved in monitoring a tree?

First we look at all twigs on a tree. We count un-browsed twigs that are new growth as well as all the browsed twigs within the last year. We track individual trees over time and whether or not we see a reduction in moose browsing. By next year, we’re confident we’ll be able to see patterns developing.

Clayton D’Orsay, Project Co-ordinator

Third moose harvest starts in November

Too many moose are overeating young trees and damaging the forest habitat, which is why Parks Canada is reducing the moose population in a small part of the park to give trees a chance to recover on their own.

This year’s Mi’kmaw moose harvest will again be a  collaboration with the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources within the same 20 km2 area on North Mountain as in previous years.

The harvest activities are planned to start as early as November 7 and could last until December 17.

Motorists may notice activity on the top of North Mountain, near the harvest area.

Some closures will be in effect to help ensure everyone’s safety in the area during the harvest.

The Cabot Trail will remain open to through traffic.

Watch our new video

Our new 4-minute video Bring Back the Boreal: Restoring Balance in Cape Breton Highlands National Park sheds light on the state of the boreal forest in the national park.
Watch it here:

Bring Back the Boreal: Restoring Balance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park


"Bring Back the Boreal"

I just planted a tree that matters.

I'm in the boreal forest of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

This forest needs help, and Parks Canada is taking action.

I joined them and am helping to Bring Back the Boreal.

The large band of boreal forest stretches around the northern part of the globe, starting just below the Arctic Circle.

It is the largest intact forest on Earth, with thousands of species of plants and animals Its particular richness and biodiversity doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet.

The boreal forest also acts as a buffer against change and produces oxygen… good reasons to keep it strong and healthy!

Let's look at what we know about the boreal forest in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

After the spruce budworm outbreak of the 1970s, the forest did not recover as expected.

As Parks Canada scientists monitored animal and plant species within the national park, They became concerned, and needed to better understand what they were seeing.

Parks Canada got to work.

For example, they wanted to find out if it was moose that were eating all the young trees before they could grow.

So they built two small exclosures that kept the moose out: one on North Mountain and another on the Skyline Trail.

On North Mountain, the trees within the exclosure started to recover on their own, so keeping the moose away may be all that is needed to help the forest recover in that part of the park.

On the Skyline Trail, perhaps the forest was more severely damaged, or the grasses were too dense, but it was certain that the forest needed more help.

A larger exclosure was built, and thousands of seedlings were planted.

Parks Canada staff had help from lots of people, just like me.

It is going to take time to monitor and measure, so the work will be ongoing.

Parks Canada and its partners have worked for years monitoring the moose population within the national park.

They learned that there were many more moose than the forest would typically support and began efforts to control the population.

Working with Mi'kmaw community harvesters, Parks Canada has started to reduce moose in a small area on North Mountain.

The moose meat is distributed free to communities throughout Nova Scotia.

The impacts of moose reduction on forest health are being monitored and measured to help address the need for moose management in the long term.

The Mi'kmaw People have a long history as stewards of the environment.

They know this sometimes means taking action, and knowing when nature needs our help.

Maintaining balance is an important goal of good stewardship.

Parks Canada works closely with UINR, the Mi'kmaw natural resource management organization of Cape Breton, as well as other Mi'kmaw organizations, with local communities and businesses, and others who share this goal.

Parks Canada has other strong partnerships in their forest restoration work.

They have helped to educate and involve science students from universities, community colleges and high schools.

They host Mi'kmaw youth as part of their summer cultural camp.

Parks Canada scientists had lots of help from young people to monitor their research. You can be part of the team too.

You can participate directly by visiting Cape Breton Highlands National Park to learn more about it.

You can check out the Bring Back the Boreal project online at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park website.

Up-to-date ways to get involved during your visit will be posted there.

At home, you can talk about issues that affect our forests, and share this video with your networks.

Canada's boreal forest stretches from one coast to the other.

Connect with a forest conservation initiative in your area.

Help us to move forward toward a healthy and balanced boreal forest as good stewards.

Work is ongoing.

There is nothing like taking action.

Help Bring Back the Boreal.


Bring Back the Boreal logo

UINR logo

Parks Canada logo.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2017.

Canada wordmark.