Forestry specialist Mark Funk has spent his career teaching the benefits of trees, including projects with Trees for Woolwich and an August 21 workshop in Elmira about tree care. But when asked for his favourite tree, he is nearly stumped.
“That’s tough,” he said, followed by a pause. “Probably my favourite tree is the white pine. They’re not overly common around here, but they are around. They’re usually one of the tallest trees in the forest, and I find them majestic.”
On the other side of the coin, are there any trees he hates?
“Nope, I don’t hate any trees,” he said with a laugh. “You’ll hear some people say that they hate poplar or willows because they’re aggressive growers, but in the right place, every tree is a good tree.”
Fair enough: Funk has participated in Trees for Woolwich’s tree-planting campaigns, and plants trees for a living with the Grand River Conservation Authority, so he knows his stuff. With the GRCA, he is currently hosting workshops to give tips and tricks of proper tree planting to landowners: first in Alma last month about windbreak thinning, then Elmira to teach rural landowners about tree care and pruning. In September, he’ll visit Kenilworth for a more general workshop.
“There will be a pretty broad cross-section of topics, but we’ll be talking about how to maintain and care for trees that you’ve just planted, as well as how to keep them healthy and in good shape as they get older,” he said.
All of these events will stress the many benefits of keeping property green.
“Trees can reduce soil erosion and water runoff; they increase property value; they produce food and wood products; and they provide shade and cool [atmosphere]. But what I find is the motivating reason for a lot of people is: they’re beautiful. People would prefer to live in a landscape with trees in it than one without.”
But don’t start digging too fast: almost all the GRCA’s tree planting occurs in the spring. Summers are usually too hot and dry for tree growth, although this unusually rainy season has been more conducive than most.
“The trees that have been planted this year have done really well because of the mixture of warmth and sunshine, and pretty frequent rain,” said Funk.
“And winter is difficult, because the ground is frozen,” he laughs.
The GRCA’S tree care and pruning workshop will take place August 21, 7-9 p.m., at Floraview Farms (1610 Floradale Rd.). Landowners who want to attend should RSVP with Funk at firstname.lastname@example.org.