Group suggests breaks, free trees to counter clear-cutting
Tax breaks, billboards and free trees are part of a campaign that is to be launched this fall in an effort to counter the effects of widespread deforestation in Eastern Ontario.
The launch of a bilingual community campaign, using billboards, to promote forest conservation and tree planting is one of the recommendations made by the Forest Conservation Working Group (FCWG), which was set up by South Nation Conservation (SNC) to follow up on suggestions made by the Agricultural Forest Cover Committee (AFCC) in 2017.
The FCWG also calls for community “free tree” days, partnering with municipalities to offer seedlings to landowners to encourage tree planting, and more promotion of tax incentives for farmers to maintain or plant forests.
“Encourage municipalities to consider a 0% tax rate on forested land” is another suggestion made by the FCWG.
While forest loss has been thoroughly studied, local governments have taken little concrete action to curb clear-cutting.
In its report the FCWG recommends that “municipalities consider tree conservation bylaws” and finance new forest cover initiatives.
“With the municipal election occurring in October 2018, there is a need to inform new councillors on the status of forest cover in the SNC jurisdiction, the importance of forest conservation, and the need for funding support to protect and increase tree cover. An information package will be created for new council orientations which will include information on the status of forest cover and recommendations for protecting and increasing forest cover,” the report reads.
The group says SNC should take the lead in lobbying the provincial and federal governments for more forest conservation funds
Best management practices
guidelines for protection during land clearing activities.
“Landowners choose to clear land for various reasons, while this often results in loss of forest cover, there are opportunities, through best management practices, to maintain critical tree cover in areas such as riparian buffers and windbreaks,” the report says.
Initially the SNC set aside $100,000 for the AFCC. The remaining $70,000 was carried into 2018 to support the new working group and its recommendations.
Other initiatives include tree planting subsidy for “over the counter” seedlings for riparian buffer and windbreak plantings, woodlot visits and evaluating buffer demonstration sites that could be used for promotional materials.
Ongoing forest loss in Stormont-DundasGlengarry “has the potential to create longreaching impacts for now and the future,” counties planner Alison McDonald cautioned county council members recently.
“Governments are challenged with balancing property rights and protecting the natural environment that works to benefit us all,” she said in a report that noted government influence on clear-cutting is limited because most of the land is privately owned.
Experts have determined that a minimum 30 per cent forest cover is required to maintain a healthy, sustainable ecosystem.
A forest cover analysis completed in 2014 confirmed that SDG had a 29 per cent forest cover.
Forest cover mapping, updated every six years, will not be refreshed again until 2020.
Deforestation is having an impact on drinking water in the area, where quality ranges from “excellent” to “very poor,” and shrinking forest cover has contributed to “stressed” conditions in the South Nation River watershed, the SNC related in its State of the Nation Watershed Report Card.