Opinions are lovely: Now let’s focus on the facts

The Editor:

Previous letter writers have brought attention to deforestation in SD&G.

Theresa Bergeron based her letter on the 2016 report entitled Forest Cover and Trends Analysis 2026 released by the South Nation Conservation Authority. I am confident that my fellow farmers, being key players in soil and environmental health, have all familiarized themselves with this report. The SNC collected data from 2008-2014. Their report contains a great deal of quantitative data and as we all know, the numbers don’t lie.

Some key pieces of information quoted directly from the report:

• 13,000+ acres of forest were lost from the SNC’s jurisdiction between 2008-2014;

• In addition to carbon sequestration, oxygen release, water absorption, water filtration, and erosion prevention, forests play a critical role in providing habitat for amphibians, mammals, birds and plants;

• A significant increase in tree planting, forested land acquisition programs, and landowner outreach initiatives is needed to address the loss of forest cover across the SNC jurisdiction;

• The 30 per cent forest cover threshold guidelines [are identified] as high risk, stating that forest cover at this level may not be enough to sustain even half of the potential species richness and can not ensure aquatic health;

• Agriculture is the predominant land use within the jurisdiction representing approximately 60 percent of total lands;

• Total forest cover in North Dundas is currently 13 percent.

What I found most interesting is the reason Conservation Authorities were created:

“By the late 19th century, Eastern Ontario experienced severe flooding, droughts and erosion due to a declining forest cover of less than 30 percent … and in some, less than 10 per cent. Severe deforestation … in addition to land management practices and flooding, led to the creation of CAs.”

When local farmers state that they are reclaiming previously farmed land by removing immature bush, they are telling a half-truth. Much of this county faced dangerous levels of deforestation that had severe weather impacts on everyone. The SNC was created and since then, they and interest groups “have facilitated the planting of over 2.8 million trees over the past 27 years.”

No farmer, myself included, wants further regulation on how we use our land. However, if we don’t work collaboratively now, in the near future, the government will heed the advice of concerned citizens and by-laws will come into place. We can prevent that by acting now.

As farmers, we have a tough job but we are also incredibly blessed. As stewards of the land, we are called to make responsible choices informed by scientific data rather than hysterical opinions. As community members, we want to see our region thrive. As Christians, we are called to serve and to give freely. Let’s continue serving our community and our nation by providing safe abundant food. Let’s continue serving the land we work on by making a concerted effort to reforest in whatever increments we can.

Amanda Woeldike-Pollock
4th generation dairy farmer and cash cropper 

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