Saturday, February 25, 2006

Definitively a Great Gray

Late this afternoon I sat down for a break to read up on some research on my inherited wall clock. My mother gave me a wall clock that has been in her family for 80 some years. After some Internet research I found literature that helped me identify the maker and origin of the clock. It led me further to some online bookstores that sold books on this specific clock maker, now identified as Gustav Becker a well know clock maker from Freiburg in what was then Germany and now part of Poland. Gustav Becker died in 1885 but the company remained in existence up to WW2.

Yesterday we received a parcel notice from the post office. Since our mailbox is too small, it had to be picked up in the village. I had ordered the two books about Gustav Becker so I was expecting this parcel to be those two books. So this morning I drove the 6 country kilometres (4 or so miles) through white open fields into the Kars village though a snowstorm to retrieve my anticipated prize. All the while, Carroll has been tentatively watching the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics this morning which interested me too but not as much as this.

So during my break I read up on the clock and found out that it was in fact built or sold in 1926. It was still blowing and snowing outside, and so hard that the snow created horizontal lines in the air against the gray wooded background.

Then out of the corner of my eye I could make out a large bird alighting in a red pine tree very close to the house. At first I automatically assumed that it was a turkey as it was a big black bird. Then after further examination it had a round head with a noticeably flat face that rotated like a turret. It was not a turkey but an owl. The bird was perched in the far side of the tree so it was difficult to identify. After several minutes at that perch it flew to another tree near the front of the house. I was now able to get a few photos of it with our portrait camera which were not the best but better than nothing – I ought to get a better camera some day. The background was gray and the subject was gray, and also it was starting to get dark, all of which colluded to create what amounts to a black and white photograph. As you will see from the above picture it was perched with its back to us, but at times when it swiveled its head to the side I was able to make out the white swipe mark below its eye discs. The owl later moved to a lower perch and faced directly towards us. We were now able to clearly see the mustache shaped white marks below the eye discs. This is a characteristic mark and it confirmed without a doubt that we were looking at a Great Gray Owl [Strix Nebulosa].

Back in February 13th last year, I had reported a sighting of a grey owl but the evidence was not definitive. That post also provides considerably more detail about the owl and the fact that it was not a natural bird in this area and that such sightings are usually accidental. The gray in fact has become a regular in these parts for the last couple of years, during winters.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Closing the Loop on Woodlot Certification

  • Closing the Loop on Woodlot Certification

We normally get a bag of flyers in our mailbox Friday night or Saturday mornings. There is the normal bunch of flyers from Home Hardware, Leons Furniture, Home Depot, Sears etc. I always take a minute or two to go through each of the flyers to see if there is anything of remote interest on sale. I admit it that I am a flyer junky. Neighbours at our former home in suburbia did the right thing and reduced pollution by refusing flyers – or more aptly put, junk mail – in their mailboxs. I could never do that.

I came across something interesting in today’s Home Depot flyer. As part of its marketing strategy Home Depot is marketing ECO Options that cater to clients who are “Looking for ways to make better environmental choices when they renovate their home”. On page eight, Home Depot is selling a Maple Veneer Core Panel 4’ x 8’ x ¾”with the FSC trademark or Forestry Stewardship Council A.C.
The ad then includes a descriptive green bar with the following text:

FSC  Certification helps sustain our forests  The Forest Stewardship council is an international non-profit organization that supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests.  When you see the FSC symbol, you know that sustainable forest practices have been followed

So how does this close the loop?

You will see from a posting on this blog on Thursday September 1, 2005 that I had Scott Davis, Certification Coordinator of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF), Forest Certification Program visit and inspect my woodlot. As a result we had our woodlot certified and we now adhere to the certification criteria and entered the woodlot certification program. We also joined the Eastern Ontario Certified Forest Owners (EOCFO) organisation formed by individuals in Eastern Ontario who had been seeking, and in 2003 obtained, FSC group forest certification for their woodlots.
What does this mean?

FSC certification program requires that:

  • Wood is not harvested faster than it grows;
  • Water, wildlife and forest ecosystems are protected;
  • Standards are developed through a stakeholder process, not controlled by industry;
  • Standards measure on-the-ground results, not just policies, programs and plans; and
  • Standards, performance and recommendations are made public.

See for full details.

So now we have come full circle. Our good management practices will now be recognised not only because it is the right thing to do in its own right but also in a more tangible means where the measures are recognised and valued in the marketplace. Also this will now let the non-woodlot owner and client for wood products participate in and promote the program.

I would say it is a good thing.