Average one million trees lost annually in watershed, South Nation Conservation study finds

SNC's Warwick Forest Conservation Area. Courtesy photo

FINCH — South Nation Conservation is sounding the alarm over the loss of one million trees felled annually in the watershed between 2008 and 2014 — equivalent to 13,000 acres of bush.

Involved with forest management for almost 70 years, SNC recently carried out an “intensive analysis” that determined the startling yearly average decline in tree numbers. It found that found that forest cover in SNC’s jurisdiction now stands at 28 per cent, two points below the 30 per cent threshold recommended by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The drop represents a setback for SNC, which has otherwise planted 2.8 million trees on 20,000 acres of forested land since 1990 — including property it manages for the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. In light of the ongoing deforestation, the watershed authority warns that “additional efforts are required to offset the current annual tree loss.”

SNC officials are highlighting their concern with visits to local council tables. Ronda Boutz, SNC Acting Team Lead, Stewardship and Forestry, outlined the findings of the 2016 Forest Cover and Trends Analysis report for North Stormont Council on Oct. 25.

The report fingers increased development and expanded agricultural production for the cut in forest cover. Available online, the document breaks down the decline by region, municipality and soil topography. 

“Ninety percent of the land in SNC’s jurisdiction is under private ownership, which is why SNC offers several forestry programs to our residents,” said John Mesman, SNC’s Acting Team Lead, Communication and Outreach. SNC programs available to residents are: Woodlot Advisory Services, Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program, and Tree Planting Program.  Residents can contact SNC to learn more about how they can benefit from these programs.

Every year, approximately 50 acres of land is donated to SNC.  Residents interested in leaving a natural heritage legacy are encouraged to contact SNC — a member of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.  The Reveler Conservation Area in Crysler is an example of a recent land donation the public may explore and enjoy.

“More work needs to be done to highlight the important ecological benefits of our forests,” Mesman observed.

SNC says it will continue to work with property owners, municipalities, and partners to “effectively address the issues impacting local forest cover.”

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