This past weekend two environmental awards were presented to New Brunswick citizens and environmental groups in honour of exemplary service to their community. The prizes, awarded by the New Brunswick Environmental Network (NBEN), recognize significant efforts by citizens and citizen groups toward the protection and restoration of New Brunswick’s environment.
Community Forests International, an organization based in Sackville with a mandate to promote community-based ecological forestry both in New Brunswick and internationally, was honoured with the the Gaia Award. According to Mary Ann Coleman, Executive Director of the NBEN, “Community Forests International received the award for their determined effort to maintain stewardship of Whaelghinbran Farm and to develop an on-site training centre to inspire youth and future generations to work towards achieving the health and diversity found within the Acadian Forest Eco-region prior to European settlement.”
Recently, Community Forests International purchased Whaelghinbran Farm a unique 650-acre farm and Acadian forest woodlot in the Sussex area on which they will be farming organically and practicing ecological forestry. The multi-stakeholder community-based ecological forestry practiced at Whaelghinbran will be an example of alternative approaches to woodland management in the region.
The Phoenix Award, dedicated to those who have been “through the fire,” was presented to Mark D’Arcy, of the Friends of the UNB Woodlot. Coleman stated, “Mark received this award in recognition of
his bold leadership, creative strategies, and tireless devotion to raising public awareness about and mounting resistance to shale gas exploration.”
The awards were presented during the Annual General Assembly of the New Brunswick Environmental Network, which was held in Sackville on October 13, 2012. During the assembly, member groups of the NBEN participanted in various workshops, discussions, and field trips in the area. As well, participants enjoyed the Soup Fest fundraiser hosted by local Sackville community groups in which Sackville-area
potters donated bowls that Soup Fest participants took home as keepsakes. Soup Fest participants also enjoyed the music of two Sackville musicians, Michael Duguay and Steve Haley.
The New Brunswick Environmental Network is a non-profit communications network of over 90 citizen environmental groups from across the province. The goal of the Network is to encourage communication among groups and between groups, government and other sectors.