Pres­cott-Rus­sell needs more trees says re­port

Vision (Canada) - - ACTUALITÉS • NEWS - GREGG CHAM­BER­LAIN gregg.cham­ber­lain@eap.on.ca

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.

—pho­to SNC

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