Every Tree Has Its Story: Tree Planting with Kawartha Land Trust
By: Thom Unrau, Land Stewardship Coordinator
In the Kawarthas, most tree planting isn’t done with commercial timber harvest in mind, so behind every tree planted there is a story of people passionate about the land, the environment and nature. It’s the vision of these people that enhance and increase our forests. This spring KLT helped landowners grow forests by planting trees with them, or contributing funds to plant trees. Together we planted over 15,000 trees. But these trees didn’t just go anywhere. We focused our efforts on areas in the Kawarthas Naturally Connected natural heritage system. This mapping process, which uses conservation science to identify the best places in the Kawarthas to protect, steered our tree planting projects to certain private land. Then it was up to the landowner, dedicated volunteers and forestry professionals to do the rest.
We started our planting season on property protected by KLT with a conservation easement agreement, owned by Major Donald Howson. For decades Major Howson has reforested much of his beautiful property high on the drumlins of Settlers line, east of Peterborough. Now at 102 years old, the number of trees that Major plants every year has gone down from a few hundred to around 20 trees, but he is still keen as ever to grow the forest. With the help of neighbours and with Major supervising, we had a short, but memorable beginning to a week of tree planting.
Learn more and watch a video about Glen Burn, Major Donald Howson’s property.
Next we headed over to Zack’s property adjacent to KLT’s Dance Nature Sanctuary and added oak trees to increase species diversity in the old fields. This second generation landowner recently found his father’s forestry notebook, which chronicle over 50 years of tree planting on the property, all with the goal of increasing forest cover and diversity. Zack’s commitment to the forests on his property is evident, as was the dedication of our volunteers Patricia and Andre that helped plant for the day, in the pouring rain. The downpour merely slowed us but did not deter us from planting a few hundred hardwoods with smiles on our faces!
After a rainy day the sun came out for a day of planting just south of the Oak Ridges Moraine in the Bethany Hills area. For 18 years Mark has lived on the property and learned to care for the forest, removing invasive plants, and retaining cavity trees for wildlife in his wood lot as per his Managed Forest Plan and the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP). Pleased to get a shovel in hand, we spent a beautiful day planting at the forests edge, helping to extend the footprint of the forest that Mark cares for.
After a few more rainy days of planting (including some on our own property with 7 committed volunteers) we finished with a bang on Frank’s property. Frank says he’s cared for the marsh on his property for over 30 years, watched the bluebirds come and go in his nest boxes, and always tried to keep chemicals off of his land. Pleased to see the fields bursting with pine after two days he happily said that we could plant trees till they run out of dirt if we wanted! This could have been possible at the rate that Eleanor Reed from Lands and Forest consulting planted the field mechanically. With her husband driving the tractor, and her daughter and daughter-in-law loading the planter with one tree every 2 seconds the miniature forest didn’t take long to appear. As the machine worked Eleanor explained how she’s not getting rich off planting trees like this, she and her family do it because they love it, and know that planting trees and growing the forest is important. All week I had heard this sentiment- people putting in their money and time to grow the forests of the Kawarthas.
After a few weeks of planting trees I am inspired by these landowners, volunteers and professionals enthusiasm for the land, and desire to protect it. I’m also inspired by the organizations that support this work, and made it possible for KLT to help these landowners to plant and purchase trees.
Thank you very much to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the planting incentive program by Trees Ontario, 50 million trees! Together, we are protecting and enhancing nature in the Kawarthas.
Posted June 30, 2017.