Volunteers with Trees for Woolwich are inviting the community to be part of the kick-off event April 5 for the Bring Back the Maples project.
“We want to share with people the excitement of the biggest roadside reforestation project in over 140 years,” said Inga Rinne, a volunteer with the organization.
This project puts Woolwich as a significant player in the battle to mitigate climate change. It is also a chance to show support for Earthscape’s Mark Schwarz and his crew who are working very hard to make this happen.”
In the 1800s, the provincial government provided incentives for landowners to plant trees along their roads and keep them alive. Today, many of those trees are aging out and dying, leaving bare gaps in the roadsides.
According to the Trees for Woolwich website, Bring Back the Maples is possibly the biggest roadside reforestation project in the area since the 1880s.
Rinne says she believes people should come out to the event because, “they will have been at the start of a very significant project which will eventually transform the rural roadsides of our township. Also there will be cookies.”
The goal of Bring Back the Maples is to plant 22,000 trees over the next three years along the rural roads in the township. The group estimates this project will provide 800 acres of canopy cover in the township and be a carbon sink to offset some of the emissions in the township, as well as provide connection between wooded areas for wildlife, particularly for birds.
This year the group will plant about 7,000 trees between the spring and fall, estimates Rinne.
Schwarz and his team with Earthscape Landscape Design & Build also won a Green Stamp Award earlier this year from Landscape Ontario for their work restoring land at the Elmira Nature Reserve.
“I’m happy for the team (including me) who worked very hard outside our real expertise to be recognized by a professional association,” said Schwarz about winning the award.
“I’ve enjoyed the challenge of learning a new discipline (Ecological Restoration) and brainstorming with many experienced people, the GRCA, Trees for Woolwich folks, Waterloo Region forestry, consultants, and professors. You also can never be sure you’ve got the ‘best’ or ‘right’ solution because there are so many alternatives. As a professor of mine liked to say, ‘Ecological Restoration isn’t rocket science, it’s much more complicated.’”
“The goal of the awards is to provide our members with a marketing tool that shows their skills, passion, expertise, and knowledge and customer-centric approach to providing the best landscapes in Ontario. So it’s a way for our members to showcase their best work to potential clients across Ontario,” said Amy Buchanan, director of membership for Landscape Ontario.
She said the project’s purpose of being used to educate the public about restoration, and the extensive use of native plants, earned the team their award.
Schwarz said eliminating the invasive species in the reserve was harder than he expected, as they found acres of invasive buckthorn on the property. Watering was also challenging as last year was one of the driest in the last 70 years, with another dry year before that.
When asked why people should care about the Bring Back the Maples project, Schwarz responded, “This project will create a virtual park of more than 800 acres. That’s more than two times the size of all Woolwich Township parks put together. This is probably the largest habitat restoration project possible on township land, and we were all seeing it every day. So it was an amazing ecological and urban planning opportunity. We can transform our Township to be one of the most forested public spaces in southern Ontario.”
Anyone interested can come to 7631 Reid Woods Dr. at 10 a.m. Rinne estimates the event will take about 45 minutes.