I went to say goodbye to a forest today. These are odd words to write, but they are appropriate ones. Barring an eleventh-hour decision of some sort, tomorrow a large and relatively old mixed forest in Ottawa’s west end will be cut and give way to subdivision homes. The forest is alternately called the South March Road forest or the
Those who plan to develop it have followed all the rules. They obtained all the necessary permits, and conducted the necessary environmental assessments. Species identified under
Notwithstanding good intentions and regulatory procedures, tomorrow the felling may legally begin. The forest has been surveyed, the flourescent stakes are in the ground, the plastic net-fencing winds through the woods. Having never been there before, I decided I had best grab my snowshoes and have a good look around before it’s too late.
It is a pretty forest. It is not truly old-growth, at least, not in the parts I walked through over the course of an hour and a half. From what I saw, I suspect it must have been cut once, back in the mid-nineteenth century, with many stands having not been cut again. In some places there are century-old white pines with rusted barbed wire embedded in their bark. There is a rich mix of tree species of varying ages and sizes, a sign of a healthy forest. There are many deer trails. Despite being very close to the city, it is exceedingly quiet in there. I can see why many residents are upset it is being cleared.
The forest was brought to my attention by a former student, who has been helping a local group that’s trying to block the development. Today, this group and a number of other concerned residents were joined by leaders of several Algonquin First Nations in a day of prayer for the forest, with ceremonies held at the trailhead off fittingly named
I think cutting trees is a good thing. We need to cut more trees, not less. We need more products made of wood, less of plastic and metal. But the cutting I'm talking about maintains forests, it does not remove them. A well-managed eastern
Perhaps if residents of