After an inquiry about the seemingly many trees cut down in Springwater forest, Catfish Creek Conservation Authority (CCCA) explained their rationale behind tree removal.
Aylmer resident Susan Wells asked The Aylmer Express why so many trees were cut down in Springwater forest, and who, if anyone, financially benefits from the tree removal.
Conservation Areas Supervisor Dusty Underhill said CCCA created an ongoing Conservation Lands Inspection Program, as part of an annual agreement with the Jaffa Outdoor Education Centre and the Thames Valley District School Board.
Mr. Underhill said because of this program, CCCA staff members have cut down several hundreds of dead, declining, or “hazard” trees along the trail network through the Springwater Conservation Area.
The trees deteriorate due to numerous factors including pests and diseases, forest age, and heavier winds and storm pressures contributed by global warming, said Mr. Underhill.
The CCCA has several staff members trained to identify potential forest diseases and hazards according to the Hazard Tree Abatement Policy.
“Staff detail the tree species, size, location and evaluation the condition including a clear indication if the tree is hazardous or not, and what the best way is to abate said hazard,” said Mr. Underhill.
During routine inspections this year, staff identified “a number of hazard trees” behind the outdoor education centre, along the main trail, and the south shore trail.
The trees had structural defects due to disease and root rot, which could present a public safety hazard if the trees fell, said Mr. Underhill. Beech, Cherry and Ash trees were removed during the last phase, along with several white pine along the south shore trail.
“Removal is necessary to keep the outdoor classroom free of obstruction on the ground level,” said Mr. Underhill.
If conditions allow, dead trees may be left as habitat for wildlife. Sometimes the trunk of a fallen tree may be moved or removed, for example, if trees are within striking distance of trails or structures.
A small amount of hazard trees were salvaged for future use, such as firewood, he added.
White’s Mill was contracted to assist with tree removal, “as we do not have the proper equipment to deal with the complexity of some of these super canopy hazard trees safely and efficiently,” said Mr. Underhill.
CCCA typically contracts White’s Mill when specific equipment is needed for a job. The conservation authority take care of about 80% of silvicultural activities on conservation-owned land.
“We will continue to monitor and assess annually,” said Mr. Underhill.
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express