The Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA) and the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) have merged to create a stronger, more streamlined organization.
Executive Director of the Ontario Woodlot Association, John Pineau, says both organizations had similar mandates in terms of promoting good forest management. Both were formed in 1992, and their head offices were both in North Grenville on the Kemptville Campus. In fact, they had already merged their offices to save money before the decision was made to combine the two organizations. “We already were very closely aligned and tied and had a very good relationship,” John says.
According to John, the two organizations had been talking about joining forces for a few years. The impetuous for the merger came earlier this year when two key staff members at the EOMF left the organization to focus on their own forestry businesses. President of the EOMF, Tony Bull, released a statement on their website on March 19, explaining that the loss of these two valued staff members provided the opportunity for the organization to evaluate how they could ensure the future health of the EOMF and protect its key programs, including the forest health network, forest certification program, as well as their education events.
It was through this process that the Boards of the OWA and EOMF came together and made the unanimous decision to merge the organizations. The merger is currently underway, and the process is expected to take until the end of this year. Although the name of the merged organization with be the Ontario Woodlot Association, John, who will be the newly formed organization’s Executive Director, says they are focused on maintaining the strong legacy of the EOMF. “We’ll keep their name alive in terms of this is a legacy project of the model forest with the different things we’re going to keep going,” he says. “The model forest has had some great impact and results.”
One of the big programs that the EOMF has spearheaded over the years is the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) program that is recognized internationally as a symbol of good forest management. Products that come from FSC certified forests are given market advantage; but John says many woodlot owners use the certification system to ensure they are doing a good job managing their forests. “It’s a really good system and we have quite a number of community forests and conservation authorities and private woodlot owners that fall under that certification program.”
OWA will also keep EOMF’s yearly conference and seminars alive, as well as some work they were doing on invasive species. All the publications and reports that EOMF have published over the years will also continue to be available on a legacy website.
John says this merger is an opportunity to make both organizations stronger and have even more of an impact across Ontario. OWA already has 20 chapters, and several thousand members across the province, as well as a very popular quarterly magazine called The Ontario Woodlander which they will be able to use to disseminate all the EOWA’s legacy programs. “It’s so good in terms of getting the word out and getting the products and services that we offer to a wider audience, and combined they are pretty powerful products and services.”
To learn more about the OWA or sign up to become a member, visit their website at www.ontariowoodlot.com.