Grey Sauble Conservation Authority owns and manages 11,734 ha (28,995 acres) of land, of which over 6,400 ha (16,000 acres) are considered appropriate for forest management activities. Of the land not considered appropriate for forest management, important features still exist that GSCA wants to protect, such as sensitive plants and wildlife habitat, or the area has been set aside for recreational activities, such as walking or hiking.
The forests of GSCA are managed on a sustainable, long-term basis, ensuring the longevity of the many values that forests provide. Registered Professional Foresters have developed a Forest Management Plan for GSCA properties. This plan has identified many objectives including conservation and protection of watershed headwaters, the protection of heritage features (both natural and historic), the maintenance and enhancement of wildlife habitat features and for the recreational use of both watershed residents and tourists alike.
For more information on Grey Sauble Forests and/or a copy of the High Conservation Value Forest Report and Review, please contact Mike Fry, Forestry Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustainable forest management is a way of using and caring for the forest to maintain their environmental, social and cultural, and economic value and benefits over time1. All forest management operations that are planned and delivered on GSCA lands are designed and completed using the latest scientific research to ensure as little negative impact to the site as possible.
Professional Foresters at GSCA use the most relevant scientific information and knowledge to develop and plan forest operations. Before any operation begins, GSCA staff develop a harvest schedule that will indicate the approximate timing (which year) when a stand of trees is planned for management. Staff then go to the site and conduct a forest inventory collecting the following information:
– Tree species;
– Tree size and count (diameter and height);
– Approximate tree age;
– Plants and vegetation present;
– Signs of wildlife present (tracks, sightings, stick nests, dens, scat, etc.);
– Presence of invasive species or Species At Risk.
By collecting this information, staff make informed decisions about the best steps to take to ensure the long-term health of the forest. Harvesting of trees is one forest operation that GSCA staff use to ensure the health of the forest. As a by-product of harvesting, habitat for wildlife and plants can be enhanced and revenue can be generated. This revenue is used to off-set the expenses of the forestry department and to other support conservation efforts of GSCA.
Forest management activities are planned and executed through an iterative process. This process includes:
- Inventory – collecting information about the species, size, number, and unique features found within the stand.
- Prescription – this is a document that details the planned forest operations and includes the current state of the forest and the short and long-term desired state of the forest. These documents connect how the current state of the forest will be modified to reach a desired future state. This document also states how environmental and wildlife values will be protected.
- Marking – this is an activity that involved evaluating each tree within a stand to determine if the tree will be harvested or if it will be left. Generally, trees that are showing signs of disease and/or decline will be marked for removal.
- Harvesting – this is the action of cutting tree down. Only trees that have been marked are harvested. Harvesting is completed when it will do as little damage to the forest (generally in the winter or throughout the summer).
- Harvest Monitoring/Evaluation – during and after a harvest operation, forestry professional monitor and evaluate the operation to ensure only marked trees are harvested and damage to the remaining trees and forest is kept to a minimum.
- Evaluation of Results – after the harvest is complete, forestry professional monitor the forest to see if the future state of the forest described in the harvest prescription comes about. If it does not, the prescription, tree marking, and harvesting are examined to determine why. These learnings are used to create better harvest prescriptions and to modify how the tree marking process takes place.
Forests are managed to mimic local natural disturbances and to create suitable habitat for the trees to regenerate. In the GSCA watershed, forests naturally developed through small-scale disturbances such as wind-storms and lightning strikes. As such, forest managers attempt to emulate these small-scale disturbances by removing individual trees (instead of large areas of trees) throughout the forest. By creating small openings in the forest, suitable microsite conditions are created to allow for desired species to regenerate and replace the trees that have been removed.
Forests are managed on a long-term time horizon for the benefit of future generations. Guidelines have been developed using the latest scientific research. These guidelines provide forest managers with direction to best manage their forests. These guidelines are reviewed frequently, as new research and information becomes available. Forest managers follow this same approach by creating a forest management plan, implementing the plan, reviewing the outcomes and adapting future management with what was learned.