Acquisition of forest lands in the Long Point Region watershed was one of the early priorities for both the Big Creek and Otter Creek Conservation Authorities in order to enhance and protect water-holding areas. Through careful management, originally by the two conservation authorities and now by LPRCA, total forest holdings have grown to more than 8,500 acres. LPRCA forest tracts are managed to enhance the biodiversity and health of the watershed and provide critical green space.
In 1995, the Long Point Region Conservation Authority assumed primary responsibility for decision-making in regards to its forest lands. Prior to this, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) held management responsibility through an agreement with the LPRCA under the Forestry Act. Decisions regarding acquisition of new forest tracts, removal of forest products, designation of tracts to be protected, enhancement of biodiversity and significant species and public consultation on all of the above now rest with the board and staff of the Conservation Authority.
In 1998, the LPRCA commissioned a forestry consultant to develop a 20-year Forest Management Plan for the dozens of tracts of LPRCA forest land. Following extensive public consultation, the LPRCA approved a new Management Plan in 1999 to provide direction until 2018. A number of objectives are included in the Plan, including provision of wildlife habitat, protection for species at risk, sustainable forest management and opportunities for recreation and education. The 20-Year Forest Management Plan provides the overall direction for an ecosystem-based approach to manage LPRCA’s forest tracts.
The objectives of the Forest Management Plan are met through harvesting stands that are over mature and/or disease and insect infested; by removing genetically poor quality trees which provides stand improvement; by monitoring younger stands to ensure that diseased stems are marked for removal and by monitoring areas to ensure wildlife habitat are being maintained and used.
Before cutting begins, a licensed tree marker indicates which trees are marked for cutting or to be retained. Some trees are retained to provide food or for wildlife habitat and some may be left for aesthetic reasons. After harvesting, regeneration takes place naturally from stump or root sprouts or from seed from the remaining forest. This system results in an uneven aged stand.
Harvesting inspections are carried out by LPRCA staff to ensure contractors comply with the terms and conditions of their contracts and to minimize impacts during logging operations. Accredited and licensed consultants are used to ensure that logging is conducted in a safe, ecologically responsible and sustainable manner.
The LPRCA is committed to sustainable forest management practices and recognizes social, economic and ecological values as important components of its forestry activities. Protecting existing forests and increasing forest cover is an important aspect of sustaining the health of the watershed.