Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ontario Woodlot Association Conference and Annual General Meeting

Today Carroll and I attended the OWA Conference and AGM in Acton Ontario. Acton is a lovely small town just west of Toronto. The conference consisted of five presentations.

The first was entitled Land Trusts and Conservation Easements. I found it interesting as is spoke about the legal vehicles that exist by which one can ensure that one’s property is preserved in a particular way with certain conditions. For example a common wish is to conserve the property for perpetuity. This usually means that an agreement is established with a recipient stewardship organisation such as Ducks Unlimited or the Nature Conservancy.

Several excellent examples i.e. Mud Lake in or near Oak Ridges Moraine north of Toronto were presented.

It was an interesting talk since the content was well balanced and realistic demonstrating the advantages i.e. potential income tax benefits etc. as well as the risks.

The second paper was on Tree Marking. By Martin Streit of Domtar, Cornwall (soon to close apparently).
This was a very practical and informative session. It was basically an introduction to forestry practices and touched upon what I would call rules of thumb about timber harvesting. It was an ideal paper for the small woodlot owner who would not normally be able to hire a forester.

The third presentation was about Old Growth Forests presented by a very enthusiastic Bruce Kershner, Botanist from Manhattan who has been studying and seeking old growth trees for over 20 years. Near Niagara Falls he found 280 year old trees in Clifton Hills. As we go north we tend to find more old growth trees. He distinguished primary old growth from secondary, secondary being forests than have grown where land was once settled. He found OG pine trees that generated seed that grew faster and healthier than seed from younger trees, leading to the argument that preserving OG protects the gene pool and also has economic benefits.

The fourth presentation was entitled Building a Case for Sustainable Management of Private Woodlands.
This was quite revealing with the most prominent point being that a well managed forest can provide considerably more income per acre per year than farming. Several actual case studies were presented and the economics of each woodlots harvest compared to comparable farms in the area.

The fifth and last session was on Forest Health. The more prominent recent pests and diseases were presented. These included:
The emerald ash borer – a devastating pest to all ash trees, of which I have many
The Long horned beetle
Pine shoot beetle
Beech Bark disease
Hickory Bark beetle,
Pine false webworm
Spruce budworm,
Redhumped Oakworm
Ash anthiacnose (spelling not sure)
And the Butternut Canker.

The conference and AGM was interesting with a very good turn out, apparently more than in previous years.

There you have it. Carroll and I took Friday off to travel down and made a long weekend of it.

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