Neighbourwoods 2019 Spring Tree Talk: “raresites: Land Conservation in the 21st Century”
On March 26, our guest speaker Tom Woodcock gave us an in-depth look into the ‘what, where, when, why, and how’ of the rare Charitable Research Reserve.
What is rare?
The Reserve is an area of over 900 acres, on the Grand River between Kitchener and Cambridge. Its mandate is to preserve and steward ecologically significant land in Waterloo and Wellington Counties. A sampling of the 24 different habitats under protection include old-growth Carolinian forest; floodplains; meadow and prairie; bird and turtle breeding grounds; and stops along bird migration routes.
Rare’s conservation activities comprise three areas:
- Conservation: including tree planting, management of invasive species, and trail maintenance
- Scientific research: a living laboratory that hosts environmental research projects and monitoring
- Education: public events, environmental education programs, volunteer opportunities, and recreation such as hiking trails, to enable the public to learn about and value their natural surroundings.
Rare is a non-profit organization that depends on volunteers and is funded mainly by donations, and some funding from the region for specific projects.
Why does rare do what it does?
We are all familiar with the threats to land and forests from an increasing human population: consumption of living space, food, water, and resources; climate change; loss and degradation of habitat; and pollution.
From one perspective, ‘undeveloped’ land can appear to be inactive, inert, and of no value until a commercial developer comes along to build something on it. From a more accurate perspective, natural landscapes actively provide a huge variety of ‘ecological services’, including water filtration, flood and erosion control, removal of air pollutants, recycling of nutrients and renewal of soil, pollination, absorption of greenhouse gases, and support for the biodiversity that makes this all possible. These ‘services’ of course benefit not just humans, but all other species on which we and the earth’s ecosystem depend.
To get a sense of how valuable these services are, ask yourself for example: how do I get clean water? Ecoservices are ‘free’, but they require the space and time to do their jobs. If ecoservices disappear, replacing them comes at a cost. Consider for example the costs of building a water treatment plant, paying for flood insurance or damage, healthcare costs due to air and water pollution, or the need for more and more fertilizers and pesticides to compensate for diminishing soil quality.
The message is that we are depleting the earth’s natural ecoservices at an unsustainable rate – we are using more than the environment can provide. ‘Half Earth’ is a concept proposed by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, which states that we need to set aside and protect one half of the earth’s natural habitats in order to maintain the biodiversity that is essential for the earth’s ecoservices to be sustainable.
What are some solutions?
The answer to the question ‘why conserve land?’ became clear. We need to achieve a balance between usage and preservation of natural resources. Rare supports this goal by:
- Stewarding land that is already under protection, in perpetuity
- Reconnecting fragmented landscapes so that habitats are not disrupted and species have increased chances of survival
- Acquiring more lands for preservation, through purchase or donation. For example, a current project is underway to build a conservation corridor along the Eramosa River, that would extend from Eden Mills through Rockwood, Guelph, and the Eramosa Valley. This project has the potential to almost double the area of land under protection by rare.
Underpinning all of these efforts is the need to engage and educate the public as to the value of natural landscapes, not only for their ecoservices but for the enjoyment and well-being they provide.
In case all of these problems seem too large to resolve, we can remind ourselves of Tom’s decription of ecological activity as: ‘little actions or processes happening an unimaginable number of times’. With that in mind, the small efforts of each of us can potentially add up to a large turnaround in the ways we use and preserve our natural landscapes.
Neighbourwoods thanks our 2018-19 Tree Talk Sponsor, the Elora-Salem Horticultural Society,
for their support.
Community maintenance pruning is planned for April 13, 2019 in the Elora Meadows neighbourhood. Juvenile trees located within the Township owned road right-of-way may be pruned in order to improve their structure and future health. The pruning will take place between 8:30am and 12:00pm by Neighbourwoods Citizen Pruners accompanied by two to three members of the Centre Wellington Arborist Association.
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Neighbourwoods.
Saturday, May 11th, 2019 from 9:30am to 4:00pm in Elora
$70 per person
A Tree Inventory is a valuable and easy way to:
- gather valuable data about the health, location, and species composition of your urban forest;
- educate and provide a meaningful experience for community volunteers;
- reach out to your community.
For the last 10 years, Neighbourwoods has run a Tree Inventory Program in Centre Wellington (Elora/Fergus) using the Neighbourwoods protocol developed by Drs. Andy Kenney and Danijela Puric-Mladenovic at U of T.
With over 11,000 trees in our database, we have garnered a lot of experience about what works best and we want to share it with you! This full day workshop is an ideal training opportunity to learn how to inventory trees in your community.
Come and Learn:
- how to collect data and store it – using trusty low-tech clipboards or ArcGIS online platform
- tree ID basics
- PR and recruitment tips
Space is limited! For more info please call Toni – 519-362-9469 – or email us.
“raresites: Land Conservation in the 21st Century”
Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Time: 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Where: Elora Centre for the Arts, 75 Melville St, Elora
Cost: Free for members, $5 non-members
Speaker: TOM WOODCOCK
Rare Charitable Research Reserve is a 900+ acre urban land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region/Wellington (near Cambridge). The reserve contains a network of natural landscapes that are held in trust as a common possession, set aside for their natural and heritage value. Rare’s mission is to provide opportunities in ecological and cultural research, education, community engagement, and recreation.
Join us for Tom Woodcock’s presentation “raresites: Land Conservation in the 21st Century”.
We expect a lot of our land, yet many people rarely give it a second thought. Ecological services provide for all our wants and needs, but require space and respect that come with high costs in our modern economy. Tom will discuss the ecological benefits of land conservation, and the challenges of a charitable land trust in one of Canada’s most expensive and fastest growing areas.
About the speaker: Tom has been an environmental scientist for more than 20 years, studying effects of human activity on ecological processes in a variety of systems. As Planning Ecologist at the rare Charitable Research Reserve, he works to secure, restore, and steward lands for the benefit of nature.
Neighbourwoods thanks our 2018-19 Tree Talk Sponsor, the Elora-Salem Horticultural Society, for their support.
If you have been looking for an opportunity to contribute to our community, meet some really nice folks, learn some things then please consider volunteering for Neighbourwoods. All of our programs rely on folks just like you. Some of our projects ask for a couple of hours – like planting and stewards, and others need a longer commitment over the summer.
In all cases, you’ll learn about trees and feel good!
We invite you to take a look at the 4 volunteer opportunities we have for 2019 and fill our form below to find out more. No obligation!
Neighbourwoods Winter Tree Talk: MCC: Reforesting for Hope and Change in Haiti
On January 21st, about 40 enthusiastic community members gathered to hear Fred Redekop give a fascinating overview of a long-running project by the Mennonite Central Committee to reforest the hardest-hit areas in Haiti, to provide local people with affordable food, cooking fuel, and building materials, as well as income from fruit and lumber sales. In addition, the reforestation project improves soil and reduces erosion from wind and water, reducing vulnerability to, and allowing quicker recovery from, natural disasters like hurricanes and droughts.
Fred’s talk included some background on some of the reasons that led to Haiti’s becoming so drastically deforested, including extreme weather but also political and economic pressures both internal and external to Haiti. This generated comments and questions among the listeners, and we were fortunate to have relevant insights shared by participants with first-hand experience in Haiti. A strong point of the presentation was that MCC works directly with local people and partners, to ensure the aid provided is appropriate to the people’s needs, and is sustainable by them over the long term. MCC has established local tree nurseries, and provides education, training, and support on sustainable farming practices. The trees are selected specifically for the climate and conditions, and are fast-growing. The project has been underway since 1983; in the past five years alone, over 2 million trees have been planted, of which approximately 400,000 are fruit trees.
The presentation gave us much food for thought, and provided a clear example of how forest conservation is critical to the well-being of people and environments.
Fred Redekop was a pastor in the Mennonite Church for 30 years. At present he is the Church and Community Associate for Mennonite Central Committee; he is also a councillor for the Township of Woolwich. We were delighted that he was able to join us for this special evening.
Neighbourwoods thanks our 2018-19 Tree Talk Sponsor, the Elora-Salem Horticultural Society, for their support.
Centre Wellington now has a Public Forest Policy which is a comprehensive document that outlines standards for tree planting and maintenance on municipal and private property.
If you want to learn more about this legislation you can read the document, published January 1st of this year, to access the document click here
Neighbourwoods encourages residents to hire a qualified arborist to maintain the health andvigor of private trees, and to address potential safety concerns. An arborist can also determine when a tree can no longer be maintained and should be removed due to health, structural concerns, or safety concerns that may impact long-term viability. Tree removal around buildings, vehicles and wires present special challenges.
Although the tree care industry is not regulated, many arborists choose to become certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) which mandates arboricultural training and continuing education, as well as adherence to the Certified Arborist Code of Ethics. A qualified arborist should be certified with the ISA or a comparable organization, have liability insurance, Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage, and provide detailed
estimates prior to undertaking any work.
If you are looking to have tree work done, there are many qualified contractors working in the Township of Centre Wellington, we invite you to start by visiting the website of the newly formed CW Arborist Association. Every member has volunteered their time and expertise with Neighbourwoods.
Their website can be found at https://www.cwarboristassociation.ca/ with new improvements coming soon!
If you have ever wondered, ‘how old is that tree?’, here is a simple worksheet which will give you a rough idea. Because this is an
American source, you will need to convert your diameter calculation into inches by dividing by
And once you know, it’s fun to ponder what our community looked like when your tree was
1. Determine the tree’s diameter (inches) at a height of 4.5 feet from the ground.
Diameter = circumference / 3.14 inches
2. Use the table below. The table assigns a growth factor to various tree species.
Multiply the diameter (inches) by the appropriate growth factor.
Example: Your cottonwood tree has a diameter of 18 inches at 4.5 feet from the ground.
18 inches x 2 = 36 years (estimate)
Note: Growth factor numbers are most accurate for trees grown in healthy forests. Street and urban trees often are exposed to stressors such as poor soils, damage from machines and equipment, restricted growing areas, etc. Street and urban trees have different growth factors and they tend to grow more slowly and be weaker than healthy forest-grown trees.
Species Growth Factor
Aspen spp. = 2
American elm = 4
Austrian pine = 4.5
Basswood = 3
Birch, paper = 5
Black cherry = 5
Black maple = 5
Black walnut = 4.5
Colorado blue spruce = 4.5
Cottonwood = 2
Green ash = 4
Ironwood = 7
Kentucky coffee tree = 3
Northern red oak = 4
Norway maple = 4.5
Red maple = 4.5
Red pine = 5.5
River birch = 3.5
Scotch pine = 3.5
Shagbark hickory = 7.5
Silver maple = 3
Sugar maple = 5.5
White oak = 5
White pine = 5
Date: October 2nd, 2018
Where: Minarovich Gallery
Admission is free for members and $5 for non-members.
What is conservation? A simple question, with many differing perspectives. Serena will take us through the history of the conservation effort providing a variety of viewpoints, from people of different nationalities and backgrounds. How are different communities affected by the conservation? Who benefits from it? Come to our tree talk to find out more!
About the Speaker:
Serena is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia with a degree in Natural Resources Conservation. She has experience working in conservations with Parks Canada, the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, and with the UBC Botanical Garden. As a student in the relatively small Faculty of Forestry, she had an optimal experience working closely with staff and professors to get the most out of her degree.