In 2006, the Town of Oakville was the first lower-tier municipality in Canada to have three of its woodlands achieve Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) certification through the certification program of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF).
Yesterday, the town announced the FSC certification has been expanded to include all 282 of its woodland properties.
“One of the town’s most livable features is an abundance of woodland areas and nature trails,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. “We are very proud to be acknowledged for the work we’re doing to protect our trees in an effort to reach our urban forest canopy goal of 40 per cent by 2057.”
The news was presented to town council as part of the 2013 Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Update Report. The report provided an overview of the 2013 EAB management program and accomplishments, as well as information on the upcoming 2014 Woodlands Conservation Program aimed to manage EAB in the town’s woodlands.
“Our 2014 Woodlands Conservation Program is one way the town is meeting these best practices for forest health. With ash trees in our natural woodlands being ravaged by EAB, dead and dying ash trees near trails and private property must be removed to conserve our woodlots and ensure public safety. Removing them before they fall not only reduces the risk to the public, it can slow the spread of EAB,” said John McNeil, manager, Forestry Services at the Town of Oakville.
While natural regeneration will account for most of the regrowth in the woodlands, the town will continue to establish a number of concentrated planting sites called Prime Sites to help the forest regenerate more rapidly with desirable native species.
McNeil added that in addition to ash trees, other trees identified as a high safety risk or that are compromising the health of the forest will be cut down.
In following this sustainable forest management approach, the town was able to expand the number of properties that are certified sustainable by the FSC from three woodland parks to all 282. Iroquois Shoreline Woods Park, Bayshire Woods Park and Winston Woods Park were previously certified.
The 2014 Woodlands Conservation Program covers approximately 34 woodlands. The program will roll out as weather and ground conditions permit. Some woodlands and trails will be temporarily closed over periods throughout the year while trees are removed. A woodlands conservation open house is scheduled for January 22, 2014 at Town Hall. Another will be held later in the year.
The EOMF is a not-for-profit organization that works with government and other stakeholders to promote sustainable forest management through FSC certification, which is known world-wide as the mark of responsible forestry. The EOMF provides independent auditors to evaluate woodlands and determine that their owners are complying with sound forestry standards. Those that comply have their woodlots certified as well-managed.
Further information on the EOMF forest certification program can be found at www.eomf.on.ca.
Details on the town’s Woodlands Conservation Program are available on the town’s trees and woodlands page at www.oakville.ca.