First Nations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick could enter the region’s forestry industry if a Supreme Court of Canada ruling goes their way.

The court is currently considering the case of two native men, already acquitted by the Appeal Court, accused of illegally taking Crown wood.

If the Mi’kmaq men are cleared, their lawyers estimate a timber harvesting deal between native leaders and the provinces could be signed as early as next year.

Previous appeal courts ruled that natives have the right to cut trees under treaties dating back to 1760.

The forestry sector is the second-largest industry in the region after fishing, with the government owning 50% of the total land base in New Brunswick. In Novia Scotia, one quarter of the forested land is Crown-owned.