Recent trends in extensive forest-cover loss aren’t going unnoticed by local residents who are calling attention to the issue in newspapers.
According to South Nation Conservation, if left unchecked, this downturn in forest cover will directly impact the natural benefits that the watershed depends on.
Eastern Ontario’s forests help filter the air we breathe; protect the water we drink; provide habitat for abundant wildlife; and supply us with valuable wood products.
“Our forests are being cut with an intensity that is permanently changing the countryside,” says SNC Chair, Bill Smirle.
“If we don’t take urgent action to save what’s left, the opportunity will be lost.”
With this in mind, the South Nation Conservation Board of Directors has set aside funds in the 2014 budget to preserve local forests.
“The board of directors decided to set aside a $250,000 special levy, earmarked for land purchases,” said Jim Hendry, SNC team lead for property management.
SNC has a long history of acquiring land and to date, owns 11,000 acres of mostly forest cover.
These properties provide nearby and natural areas for people and wildlife, including opportunities to hunt, hike, and picnic.
In most cases, SNC is able to double funds for forest acquisition through their partners in conservation, such as the Ontario Land Trust.
SNC currently receives about 200 acres every year through land donations from families who want their forests protected beyond their lifetime.
“I am pleased to announce that SNC will be launching a legacy trust program in 2014,” says Smirle. “This will make it easier for ecological lands to be permanently protected.”
Acquiring priority forest tracts is one more tool SNC uses to create a legacy of healthy forests.
Each year, SNC plants 100,000 trees and visits over 50 woodlot owners to provide management advice. A multi-stakeholder Forestry Committee oversees forest programs and provides valuable feedback from rural landowners and the forestry sector.