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Pilot project works to improve the health of forests


The Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA) is helping landowners take care of the health of their forests with a pilot project.

Last year, the not-for-profit organization began the Community Forest Owners Cooperative pilot project, providing woodlot owners with an affordable way to access professional foresters.

"It's something that we really recognize is being needed and an opportunity for us to do some good for woodlot owners in Ontario," says OWA executive director John Pineau.

Jack McFadden and his wife Janet are having their forest thinned out.

McFadden says they always loved their forest the way it was, but the couple was surprised to find out the lot had health problems and invasive species.

"We agreed we needed to get some help, and we needed to develop a woodlot that's going to look better for generations to come. That's why we decided to take part in this program," says McFadden.

To make the forests healthy, invasive species are cleared, and older trees are cut down, allowing increased sun and nutrients to grow and making space for new plants.

"We're creating a healthier forest and hopefully making a better environment for all the wildlife and other things that are living here," says project manager Jim Eccles.

It's good for the environment, and Pineau adds it also benefits the local economy.

"We have local foresters, forest professionals, tree markers, harvesting contractors, small and medium-sized sawmills, and of course people that provide the movement of wood to the mill," says Pineau.

Professional forester Eleanor Reed says they have six more projects to be completed by May.

Any woodlot owners in the two eligible regions can apply.

"The two pilot projects are in the Kawartha Lakes area, and the other is here in Huronia, which is Simcoe County. But we encourage anyone in Ontario to reach out to us if interested," says Reed.

The pilot project will run for the next two to three years.

After that time, the OWA will evaluate if it will continue or even expand across the province. Top Stories

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