See­ing the for­est through the trees

The Delhi News-Record - - NEWS - DAVID GOUGH

There’s money in wood­lots. That was Dave Pullen’s mes­sage at a ses­sion at the South­west Agri­cul­ture Con­fer­ence held at the Ridgetown cam­pus of the Univer­sity of Guelph on Jan. 4.

Wood­lands have the high po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate a more sig­nif­i­cant part of farm rev­enue in south­ern On­tario, said Pullen, who is a mu­nic­i­pal forester for Huron County, where his roles in­clude for­est con­ser­va­tion, man­age­ment and ex­ten­sion ser­vices.

In­put costs to man­age wood­lands are low and tim­ber pro­duc­tion po­ten­tial is high, he said. There’s money in wood­lots in the form of fi­nan­cial re­turns on the tim­ber har­vested and pro­tec­tion against soil ero­sion in ad­ja­cent fields caused by both wind and wa­ter.

Some­times there is a strug­gle within agri­cul­ture about the value of wood­lots, but

Pullen said the two can ex­ist very well.

“I think wood­lands and agri­cul­tural are ex­ist­ing very well in a lot of ar­eas,” he said.

He noted that Huron County has 16 per cent for­est cover and a very strong agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

“We have a lot of peo­ple who are main­tain­ing ( and im­prov­ing) their wood­lands while they in­ten­sify their pro­duc­tion on their best land. Quite often wood­lands oc­cur on ar­eas that are not suitable for agri­cul­ture any­way, so I do be­lieve that they co-ex­ist very well to­gether,” Pullen said.

The forester said in to­day’s spe­cial­ized agri­cul­tural land­scape, many farm op­er­a­tors are again ex­plor­ing the ben­e­fits of farm wood­lands. Not only are there soil con­ser­va­tion and wa­ter man­age­ment ben­e­fits, but for­est cover pro­vides a home for pol­li­na­tors and the high po­ten­tial for car­bon se­ques­tra­tion and bio di­ver­sity.

Main­tain­ing and im­prov­ing wood­lands, in tan­dem with sus­tain­able food pro­duc­tion, pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for the farm com­mu­nity to pro­vide so­lu­tions to press­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, Pullen said, .

“We know that wood­lands and for­est cover are a ma­jor fac­tor in pro­tect­ing all those things. We re­ally look at is as wood­lands pro­tect­ing agri­cul­ture, not com­pet­ing with agri­cul­ture,” Pullen said.

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