Prescott-Russell needs more trees says report
A recent report of the South Nation Conservation Authority states that Prescott-Russell needs more trees. More trees are needed for the PrescottRussell region. A recent study from the local conservation agency shows there are fewer trees in the region than normal for an area this size.
The South Nation Conservation Authority (SNC) indicates the combined total forest cover for the Prescott-Russell region is below the 30 per cent minimum which Environment Canada recommends for a healthy and sustainable local ecology with 40 per cent to 50 per cent being more ideal. SNC’s 2016 Forest Cover and Trends Analysis report concludes that, as of 2014, following the last aerial survey, the total forest cover for the Prescott-Russell region was at 28.1 per cent.
The report indicates that in the South Nation River watershed about a million trees each year are lost due to land development and other factors compared to other watershed regions in Eastern Ontario. The report describes this trend as “alarming” given that it far exceeds the SNC’s own tree planting efforts within the 20,000 acres of conservation land under its control and also some areas under the jurisdiction of local governments within the Five Counties. The regional conservation agency has planted close to 3 million new tree seedlings since 1990.
“Additional efforts are required to offset the current annual tree loss,” states an SNC news release.
Two key factors for the large amount of annual tree loss are land clearing for either new residential, commercial or industrial development, or for farmland expansion for crops or pasturing. Since it was first created 70 years ago, the SNC has sought to work with local landowners and municipal and county governments on conservation programs and projects and continues to do so today.
“Ninety per cent of the land in SNC’s jurisdiction is under private ownership,” stated John Mesmer, SNC spokesman, “which is why SNC offers several forestry programs to our residents.”
Besides tree planting programs, the SNC offers advisory services for land management and planning to assist with current and future developments within the watershed region. The agency also offers advisory programs for owners of private wood lots on efficient conservation methods, including tree planting.
These advisory programs also apply to present and future alternate energy development projects within the watershed. The SNC report notes that some solar farm projects may involve clearcutting of existing forest land to set up the solar arrays, although existing large open fields are the preferred sites. Mesmer noted in an email to EAP that, during the period from 2008 to 2014, one per cent of existing forest cover within the Prescott-Russell region was lost due to tree-cutting on some areas where a solar farm was set up.
The SNC also maintains a trust program for forest and wetland properties. Residents can donate a portion or all of their undeveloped lands to the SNC for future conservation management, either as an outright gift while they are alive or as a bequest in their will. The SNC receives land donations amounting to an average of 50 acres each year through its land trust management program.
The complete analysis report and information on SNC forestry and other programs and advisory services are available at www. nation.on.ca.