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Volunteer-led tree-planting effort to help replenish Elmira woodlot

[Stock Photo]

Having cleared much of an Elmira woodlot of dead, dying and at-risk trees, particularly ash, the township is now replanting the area with a variety of species. The latest effort involves a community planting event on Saturday (October 5).

For much of the summer, the Whippoorwill Drive site resembled a logging operation rather than a recreational area, as a contractor removed a plethora of trees, with the sale of useful logs offsetting the cost of having the work done. The work was greenlit to remove safety hazards and to clear away the deadwood that was preventing new growth from taking hold.

The work was scheduled to be completed by summer’s end, but is just in the final stages.

A Trees for Woolwich initiative is now set to revamp the location with a community event that will help plant some 150 trees to replace those lost to the work.

To that end, the group has partnered up with a local company, Rigarus Construction, to plant 50 additional trees in the areas that are ready and earmarked for planting. The plan was to add more diverse trees in the area to prevent monoculture and any diseases that can occur, explains Woolwich environmental coordinator Ann Roberts.

“If there is a disease like emerald ash borer then we don’t lose all the trees, we just lose one of them,” she noted.

Among the trees that have been planted in the woodlot are pines, oaks, maples, white pine and hemlocks. With restoration still underway, Roberts explains that this won’t affect the planting on Saturday because there are new paths that were created and are ready for new trees. Instead, she notes that tree planting will help rejuvenate the woodlot and fill in areas to prevent unwanted species such as buckthorn from taking root.

In July, Roberts teamed up with Albert Hovingh, forester and planner for the Waterloo Region, to help clean up the area. Together they agreed to hire a contractor to remove the deadwood instead of the traditional route the township usually takes on these types of projects, leaving trees to decompose on the forest floor. With much of the work now done, the contractor still has some trees to cut and remove with hopes that it’ll be finished during the fall.

The Whippoorwill woodlot is finally starting to look nicer and Roberts shared that Grand River Conservation Authority arborist Meghan Clay indicates that the area will rejuvenate on its own.

“So we’re just helping with that rejuvenation,” Roberts says of the community planting that will happen this weekend.

Those living in the community are asked to come help out with the tree planting happening on October 5, from 9 a.m. until noon. Volunteers can enter the woodlot from the trail at 25 Whippoorwill Dr., and follow the bright orange signs that will direct people to the planting area.  The efforts to rejuvenate the woodlot will continue on into next spring, where more tree planting events are set to happen.

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