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Promoting Public Awareness Of Wildlife Habitats Through Environmental Education

Love Thy Forests; Hug a Tree

Love thy forests; Hug a Tree

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Trees are magnificent things, growing to suit the particular environmental conditions in which they have come to find themselves, never complaining or causing much fuss, yet all the while providing shade, soil stability and health, clean air, forest products, and adding to the natural beauty of the area.  With all that trees provide it is amazing that most of us simply walk by a tree without giving it a second thought.

 

Groups of trees, and of course other things both living and non-living, make up a forest.  While the exact definition of a forest varies somewhat depending on the legislation of a particular area, the truth is that most of us know a forest when we see them: groups of trees that together form a larger, more complex system that ceases to be individuals, acting more as a whole.  Forests are dynamic systems; ever changing.  They can grow larger or smaller, species composition changing over time to best suit the conditions in which they are growing, and providing ideal habitat for a changing suite of woodland critters.  As with many natural systems, changes can be observed, and given enough experience and study, final outcomes understood, or even manipulated to get the highest yield, most diversity, or the specific end goal desired by the forest manager.  We can then use this knowledge to manage our dynamic forests to provide all the products that we rely upon, all the while maintaining the form and function of the systems.

 

We are actually very lucky to have free and easy access to such a wide variety of forest systems in our own back yards.  The Simcoe County Forests are the largest and one of the most productive municipal forests in Ontario, covering an area of over 31,000 acres.  The free use of these forests for any number of non-damaging activities is openly encouraged, and many of the forest tracts even have parking spaces for easy access.  Personally, I have used County forests for recreational purposes since childhood, and have made a pilgrimage to my favorite spot each year to collect wild edibles.  Even in the same forest year after year we always find something new, whether it is a small stand of uncommon trees or understory species, or a rare or endangered wildlife species, there is always something to explore.

 

Along with understanding the benefits of publically owned lands, happily, our government has realized the benefits of privately owned forests in Ontario.  If you are lucky enough to own a parcel of forested land over 10 acres, you could be eligible for a Managed Forest Plan which can even reduce your municipal taxes while offering a plan to enhance the value or beauty of the woodland on your property for the future.

 

While we all understand that not all of us can, or want to be Arborists (one who studies trees), we can all learn to appreciate what trees do, and provide for us.  Perhaps the next time you walk by a tree, take a closer look, feel the bark, and if no-one is looking, give it a nice hug.  Whether it’s your favorite Sugar Maple, Beech, or Ash, or a large Pine, scraggly Spruce, or luxurious Larch, we should stop to think about all that our silent neighbours give to us, while asking very little in return.

 

ON ANOTHER NOTE:  Kids For Turtles wishes to thank everyone who came out on Family Day to enjoy a beautiful day out in the forest of Scout Valley.  We had more than 100 people out on the trails in snowshoes and out.  We would like to thank our sponsors; McDonalds, Donut Line and The Water Store for their very generous support, and of course the City of Orillia for providing such a terrific place to hold this event.  If this beautiful winter wonderland holds out, we will do it again over March Break so watch our website for more information!

 

Written by Dan Reeves, Kids for Turtles Board Member. Kids for Turtles Environmental Education is an educational and outreach organization working to bring a better understanding of and stewardship to the environment around us.