EASTERN ONTARIO — South Nation Conservation (SNC) is calling on interested contractors to submit bids to undertake sustainable harvesting operations this year.
For some, the notion of sustainably harvesting trees from forests may seem like an oxymoron and could naturally give the perception of environmental damage. But sustainable tree harvesting is part of managing the long-term health of forests and harvest operations are needed to help transform plantations into healthy, naturalized forests.
Prescriptions for tree harvesting follow long-term management plans prepared by SNC’s Forestry Team, which specify the number of trees that can be harvested per acre, and the frequency at which this can occur, based on the growth and regeneration rates of the species found in that ecosystem.
The purpose is to harvest in such a way that meets the needs of the local economy while allowing species the chance to regenerate and ensure that the forest’s overall ecological health is maintained, restored, or even enhanced. SNC’s harvesting prescriptions will vary by forest area and condition, but the minimum baseline is to usually keep 10 dead trees, 10 fruit trees, and 10 cavity trees in each hectare of a healthy forest.
In turn, this provides wildlife habitat, aesthetic appeal, recreational opportunities, forest products, protection from wildfire, and protects and enhances soil and water quality and native biodiversity.
SNC does have forests protected through conservation easements which cannot be harvested, where nature is “allowed to run its course,” explains Pat Piitz, a Registered Professional Forester who manages the SNC and SDG Forests.
“But sustainable tree harvesting can emulate natural disturbance patterns to create sufficient habitat for a full range of species, which is extremely important as we’ve seen a decline in forest cover across the local landscape, and timber just so happens to be the by-product which meets the economic needs of society,” added Piitz.
The forests owned and managed by SNC for timber production receive an annual Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which ensures environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management.
It is also normal for debris to be left on the forest floor; it may seem a little messy, but woody debris enhances wildlife habitat by providing additional sources of food and shelter, and its eventual decomposition adds nutrients to the soil.
“I would caution people against panicking when they visit one of our forests and notice that there is a harvesting operation underway,” said Piitz. “We are following best practices to ensure the long-term health of the forest for future generations and help contribute to our local economy.”
Current tender opportunities for both softwood and hardwood harvesting operations are now posted on the Conservation Authority’s website, with more to be added in the coming weeks and months. Interested contractors are invited to review information online for the competitive bidding process at www.nation.on.ca/about/job-opportunities-tenders.