Searching through the forest for a tree
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Searching through the forest for a tree

Waterloo Region’s arborists want you to keep your eye out for big game this summer. After more than 20 years, tree experts Phil Dickie, Mike Hayes and Greg Templeman have brought back the Great Waterloo Region Tree Hunt.

The hunt, aimed at encouraging residents to maintain the region’s largest and oldest trees as well as planting new ones, will catalogue trees in the area, culminating in an ‘honour-roll’ of trees.

The original tree hunt in 1990 was run by the KW Field Naturalists and generated a booklet with pictures of the biggest tress in the region. Dickie said he came across the idea a year ago and thought it was time to hold another hunt.

“It’s been 20 years and there could be a few changes or some trees that got overlooked,” he said.

“We thought it would be a nice way of getting people involved in appreciating what we have in our region as far as large trees.”

Dickie said the use of the Internet – largely unavailable in 1990 – is the big difference in the new hunt. The tree hunt website (www.treehunt.ca) features a list of the species which have been nominated as fair game for hunting, information about measuring and submitting trees to the project and information on tree preservation.

“It’s very user-friendly,” said Dickie. “People don’t have to be experts in tree identification, we do provide them with some pictorial information and some links to other web sites that will give them all the information they need to identify trees.”

One of the tree measuring techniques presented involves using a stick the height of your arm to measure the height of the tree. Holding the stick at arms length, a person would walk backwards until the tree and the stick appeared to be the same height. Then the distance from the person to the tree is measured and, voila!, that’s the height of the tree.

“It’s pretty simple mathematics when you think about it, but it does work,” said Dickie.
The arborists have nominated about 40 species that will qualify to be identified during this tree hunt, including the Eastern Cottonwood, the winner of the tree hunt in 1990. The 35-metre-tall tree located in Wellesley is still standing.

“It’s not just the one single-largest tree,” Dickie said. “It’s the largest tree of all those species.”

The hunt will begin May 2 and end Sept. 30. As the trees are discovered each tree’s species, location and height must be verified by a volunteer. Winning trees in each category will be compiled into a book, which will contain the name of the person who identified the tree and will be given out in October to the winners at an awards ceremony.

“We do want to get the people in our region active in searching out and finding trees,” said Dickie.

“The trees, they don’t have a political voice and they need some help for their own protection. They do so much for us and we need to make sure they are going to be there for future generations.”

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