Old growth forests crucial home for some species

By Samantha MacCallum
Sept. 20, 2012

Animals like wood frogs and nesting ruffed grouse rely on old forest growth, says Jackie Waddell of Island Nature Trust Sept. 19 at the Confederation library.
Such forests are essential for their survival, she said.
“Wood frogs burrow under leaf litter and essentially freeze for the winter and in the spring they need vernal pools to lay their eggs in. Fields are too flat to have vernal pools.”
While ruffed grouse need hardwood to build their nests in, the birds need the forests because its diet consists of green leaves, berries and some insects.
She discussed the types of animals found in Acadien forests, like red foxes, bob cats, maskewed shrews and in other Maritime provinces outside of P.E.I. white tailed deer.
Acadien forests are typically found in the Maritime provinces, she said.
“True plots of Acadien forests are rare, especially old growths.”
Red spruce is a typical sign of Acadien forests. Other species would be eastern hemlock, yellow birch, balsam fir and sugar maples.
A sign of old forest growth is more kinds of lichen and fungi species which do better in old forests than younger ones.
“Tree species may grow in clumps or randomly through out. There will be dead trees falling down, rotting and feeding new trees.”
Most regrowth of trees in the province was not government planned, farmers would let trees regenerate in their fields, Waddell said.
When that was mentioned an audience member in the back said he used to work for the forestry department in the 1950s.
“When I worked for the forestry department in the 50s, we used to plant a lot of trees. We did quite a few along the way to Brackley.”
Almost all of P.E.I. has been affected by human use, especially with climate change, Waddell said.
“Seventy per cent of forest has been cleared using cutting, burning and other tree removal techniques.”
Waddell explained how the types of wood are cut based on the age of the wood, and how cost and material for the need of types of wood.
“In the 30-40 age range there was a huge demand for softwood. The same applies for the 40-50 age range. In the 10-20 age range of trees, hardwood was a more popular choice.”
The topic of old growth forests didn’t last long when it came to question period, many audience members based their questions around Plan B a controversial move to use some park land to straighten out part of the Trans-Canada Highway. One person said there is a lot of eastern hemlock around the area where the construction will be happening.
“I didn’t want to talk about Plan B tonight,” Waddell chuckled, and the audience chuckled along with her.
Some land in the Plan B area was being used by Holland College .
Ben Hoteling, an instructor of Wildlife Conservation Technology program at Holland College, said the Churchill woodlot is leased by the school.
“The area will not be impacted by Plan B, it’s in the south end of it.”
The lease is up this September, but once the construction is completed they will renew the lease. Until then, the program will use provincial lots to.