Local Wood Use at Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre
Updated: 5 years ago - Created: February 14th, 2013
The Shaw Woods Outdoor Education Centre (SWOEC), located at 2065 Bulger Road, about 20 minutes south of Pembroke, aims to get more people outside. The series of trails on the site provide opportunities for schools, community organizations and the general public to use the area and learn about the different ecosystems and sustainable forestry practices. The property has been in the Shaw family since 1847 and has been placed in the hands of SWOEC, a not-for-profit, charitable Corporation governed by a group of volunteers from the community, in order to carry out the family's wishes for the long term use of the property.
A significant amount of work has been done at the site in recent years; trails have been upgraded and expanded, viewing platforms constructed and learning materials posted to explain various aspects of the site. For many of these projects, local wood was sourced as a building material. Grant Dobson, Trails/Site Chair on the Board of Directors for the SWOEC, explains, “Using locally sourced wood products at Shaw Woods Education Center makes sense on many levels. One of our objectives in the site’s development is to stay true to the natural feel of the place. This includes using building materials that easily blend with the natural landscape.”
Trailhead structures are one of the first elements that visitors encounter when they arrive on site. “These were constructed almost entirely of local white cedar”, points out Grant. “Wood chips used along some sections of the interpretive trails are our most cost-effective material to level rough terrain. They blend seamlessly into the background environment of the trail and quickly become unnoticeable to the average visitor. Being that they are of local origin greatly reduces the chance of introducing some foreign pathogen or insect into the Shaw Woods”.
Encouraging more public use of trails in natural ecosystems is not without risks. Increased foot traffic and human presence create potential negative implications towards sustaining the biological integrity of the site. Grant explains how the use of local wood helps to mitigate those issues: “We are identifying sensitive features of the property, constructing boardwalks in wet terrain and protecting cliff ecology with railings and deck.”