On October 4th, 2015, members of the Lower Ottawa Valley section of the Ontario Woodlot Association hosted an interactive public event to celebrate National Forest Week. Residents from Kanata North and beyond were invited to learn how to identify trees and the importance of woodlots and natural spaces in the heart of their community: the Beaver Pond. This area boasts an impressively large diversity of trees, shrubs, and herbs, and even has its own arboretum!
Over 20 people took advantage of the beautiful autumn day to participate in this event - including families with young children, teenagers, a few retirees, woodlot owners, and even the Executive Director of the OWA and the Ward Councillor, Marianne Wilkinson. We had an introduction about the Ontario Woodlot Association and its various activities and programs, followed by an informal primer on the key features to look for to differentiate between tree species (nuts, fruit, bark, leaf shape, size, colour, etc.). Several participants even brought their own samples and questions from home to try to stump the experts!
During the hike through the woods we found all sorts of interesting species and learned about where they generally grow, how wildlife use them, and other fun factoids such as Ontario’s Provincial tree, which tree tastes like mint, where syrup comes from, which trees are endangered and why, etc. The kids were particularly eager to find lots of different types of nuts and fallen leaves, and to figure out which tree they came from.
We also visited the brand new arboretum in the park and learned the difference between native and non-native trees and why some trees have mesh around them. The gathering lasted for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, but I am certain that every hike these families go on will now include just a little more curiosity and interest in all parts of the ecosystem they are visiting.
National Forest Week is the perfect time to take a hike in the woods, reflect on the impacts of forests and trees on our lives and think about how we can work together to be good stewards so that the benefits are carried forward to future generations.
Article submitted by Nancy Young, RPF, Member of the Ontario Woodlot Association, Lower Ottawa Valley Chapter