Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has developed a festive solution to remove eastern red-cedar trees that are taking over the Napanee Plain Alvar Nature Reserve in Newburgh.
This Saturday volunteers can come to the reserve at 837 Nugent Rd., in Newburgh to help collect the red-cedar, which they can bring back to the NCC’s offices in Napanee for a wreath-making workshop. The field work will the morning starting at 9 a.m. with the wreath-making scheduled for the afternoon, running until 3 p.m.
“It is a native species, which is interesting because a lot of the work we do is with non-native species,” Amanda Tracey, NCC’s coordinator of conservation biology said of the eastern red-cedar. “But with the absence of natural fire going through our landscape now, because we’ve suppressed all these wildfires, these eastern red-cedar trees are really taking over. This property in particular is nesting habitat for a critically endangered bird in Canada (the eastern loggerhead shrike). In order to help keep the landscape open we have to keep cutting these trees.”
Though cows do roam the fields to help keep vegetation down, they won’t eat the cedar, which is why NCC is calling on volunteers to assist. All tools will be supplied, volunteers need only dress warmly and wear rain boots, as the plains tend to be quite wet this time of year.
To help give them an idea of numbers, NCC is asking volunteers to register at www.NatureConservancy.ca/Napanee-cv. The work will involve hiking about 1 km over uneven terrain, bending, lopping and sawing.
One of North America’s great limestone plain landscapes, the Napanee Plain is a rich complex of wetlands, forests, lakes, grasslands and alvars. Because of limited soil, fewer plants grow on alvars. This results in naturally open habitats that are perfect for grassland birds, including eastern loggerhead shrike.
Alvars are rare; they are found in only a handful of locations across the globe, including the eastern European Baltic region, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In North America, almost 75 per cent of alvars are located in Ontario.