Turning Woolwich green, one sapling at a time
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Turning Woolwich green, one sapling at a time

Trees for Woolwich’s Inga Rinne and Mark Schwarz at the Elmira Nature Reserve. [Leah Gerber]

Its efforts already bearing fruit, Trees for Woolwich is gearing up for another busy season of community environmental restoration.

Trees for Woolwich is a group of volunteers dedicated to increasing the tree cover in the township. That includes planting trees and restoring the area within the Elmira Nature Reserve, as well as planting trees throughout the township.

“The plan is to put over 2,100 trees in the nature reserve this year,” said Inga Rinne, chair of Woolwich Healthy Communities and Trees for Woolwich.

The Elmira Nature Reserve is 67 acres of land off of South Field Drive in the southeast corner of the town. The acreage is mostly abandoned fields, pasture and wetlands. The site is mainly on floodplain and so is unsuitable for development. Much of the land has been degraded by invasive species.

The goal is to restore the land back to how it would have been before being developed for agriculture. The reserve will feature an array of different habitats and forest zones with walking trails so the community can access the ecosystems and learn about them. The purpose is to increase biodiversity, increase the ability of the land to absorb carbon and regulate water, and to serve as a nature destination in Elmira for the community to access.

This past winter and fall, volunteers cleared a lot of invasive species including phragmites, Manitoba maple and buckthorn. Approximately 13 acres of buckthorn were cleared at the site.

The organization hosted a tree planting event at the nature reserve last weekend in order to fill the 13 acres with native species before the buckthorn can reestablish. Rinne says the group planted more than 1,800 seedlings, and potted 350 more in the nursery, the most done at a single event yet.

Besides the planting events, volunteers are needed for the nursery, and ongoing tree care and invasive species removal.  

Mark Schwarz is co-owner of Earthscape, a landscaping and playground construction company based in Wallenstein. He is also a volunteer with Trees for Woolwich, and a main designer of the Elmira Nature Reserve ecosystem restoration project.

“We’ve found that planting the trees is only 20 per cent of the work,” said Schwarz, noting the rest of the work is invasive species removal, tree care and management, watering the trees and nursery work.

Volunteers who wish to help with any of this work are greatly appreciated, said Schwarz and Rinne.

Trees for Woolwich is a community group dedicated to increasing the percentage of tree cover in Woolwich. The group formed in 2011 with the goal to plant 23,000 trees, one for every person in the township. Since then some 34,662 trees have been planted.

While 30 per cent tree cover is considered environmentally ideal, Rinne is not sure how realistic that goal is for the entire township considering Woolwich is primarily agricultural. Currently Woolwich sits at about 14 per cent tree cover.

The goal now is to plant 5,000 trees each year in the township.

There are plenty of upcoming community planting opportunities this season as well, says Rinne. On May 7, the group will be hosting a roadside planting on Kramp Road south of Breslau.  

May 14, the group will be hosting another planting at the Elmira Nature Reserve. The group will be planting two allées, or two laneways lined on both sides with trees, at the reserve. One will be of pine trees and another of disease-resistant elms. Funds for the allée plantings were provided by Wallenstein Feed Mill, said Rinne.

Interested volunteers can register for the events with Anne Roberts at the township of Woolwich by mailing aroberts@woolwich.ca or calling 519-514-7027.

Anyone interested in helping with ongoing support for Trees for Woolwich can contact Inga Rinne at inga@rinne.ca.

More information about planting and other events with Trees for Woolwich can be found on their Facebook page or online.  

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