National Forest Week is coming up and Simcoe County is leading the charge with various activities for the community to participate in. This year’s theme is Canada’s Forests: Our Stories, Our Future running September 24-30 and offering programs like Green History, Planting New Forests, and Self-Sustaining.
The County also recently won an award from Forests Ontario for planting the most trees in the province this year. This is in addition to owning the largest municipally-managed forest in Ontario and among the largest in Canada at approximately 33,000 total acres.
They are also developing of a new Forestry Interpretive Building at the Simcoe County Museum which is opening later this fall. Graeme Davis, a Forester with the county describes it as “a work in progress that was originally envisioned by some museum staff and former forestry staff.”
In the year 2000, it was identified as a wish list in the way the museum was going to evolve, and into an opportunity in 2012.
“We first acquired the building kit that is currently being constructed on the museum property, and it is a kit that was actually donated by the Haliburton Forest,” says Davis.
They put a proposal together to Forests Ontario and managed to secure the building through a donation that they provided to them. It will be used within the landscape of Ontario as a source of forestry education, and many other things.
“We’ve had ongoing partnerships with Forests Ontario, they actually administer a couple of different programs, one of them is the 50 million tree program,” says Davis.
It was the Greenleaf challenge that encouraged agencies and individuals to report on the number of trees that were planted this year as part of the Canada 150 celebrations. Simcoe County reported their numbers through their information portal and were recognized as the top planter for a large organization in Ontario.
“Everybody in the county benefits from that contribution from a number of individuals and partners going into that as well, so it is terrific to be recognized,” says Davis.
Their brief history is an interesting one “because it parallels what we talk about in National Forestry Week and getting people to understand the history, where we’ve come from and that sort of thing,” explains Davis.
Historically it goes back decades and started out as a national forest fire prevention week through the Canadian Forestry Association. Times have changed as have the issues affecting our forests, making their focus on the importance of forests across Canada.
“It’s about raising awareness, it’s about getting the information out about the way that our forests are managed and trying to get the general public to understand a little bit more holistically about our forests but also about forest management,” says Davis.
They started in 1922 and been planting trees, managing the forests, acquiring land and adding to the land base for 95 years and running.
“There’s been support for this program, really right since inception – I think the public understands the value. Council certainly does and they’re a reflection of the community,” says Davis.
There are lots of ways the community can get involved, including tree plants and of course participating in National Forest Week later this month.
“The information and awareness to people about the importance of our forests for a variety of reasons – the social benefit is so huge, the recreational value – there’s a lot of value to people’s health just to get out and visit the forest, there are obvious environmental values. There’s also that economic piece of it,” says Davis.
They also hope to introduce the public to their forestry building that week, “it certainly won’t be open to the public but might be an opportunity to introduce it to the public,” says Davis.
For information, visit http://canadianforestry.com/wp/national-forest-week/