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Tim Beckner and Mike Devlin chopping woods in the forest

Tim Beckner (left) and Mike Devlin are members of the King Campus crew that has been working as part of a forestry thinning operation to achieve a safe, healthy and sustainable forest.

 

“This project is exciting because we’ll end up with a more diverse forest.”

July 30, 2020

 

Imagine getting a haircut to rid split ends and let new hair grow. That’s more or less what Seneca has been doing this summer to renew about 52 acres of forested area at King Campus.

The project is part of a 20-year forestry plan with multiple goals: environmental protection, biological diversity, recreation, nature appreciation, education and preserving wildlife habitat. By selective harvesting in the forest, new tree growth is made possible.

Also known as a thinning operation, the work will create gaps in the canopy and promote regeneration of native species.

“Prescribed thinning of the forest will allow us to use the materials that are harvested and at the same time infill-plant with different native species next year,” said Rick Greenlaw, Facility Manager at King Campus. “While a lot of people may not be excited when they look at how much is cleared out, after a year the new forest will be in and in two years you won’t even recognize logging was done. This project is exciting because we’ll end up with a more diverse forest.”

Since 2017, about 41,000 seedlings of different native tree species have been planted to increase the forested area at King Campus by about 17 acres. The property features numerous hiking and biking tracks, including a section of the Oak Ridges Trail. The tracks have been closed due to the thinning operation, but a few hiking trails are scheduled to reopen in August.

The Seneca woodlands before harvesting
Before harvesting: the Seneca woodlands contained about 36 tree species and more than 40 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants contributing to a high level of species richness. (Photo: Rick Greenlaw)
The Seneca woodlands after harvesting
After harvesting: over time the area converts to native mixed wood forests. (Photo: Rick Greenlaw)

Red pine lumber
Red pine pulp
Ash trees (production of fire wood and furniture lumber), spruce (production of structural lumber) and dark walnut, maple and oak (production of furniture lumber or veneer).
The logs that resulted from the thinning operation will go into different forestry products: red pine lumber to pressure-treated lumber, red pine pulp to cardboard and paper products, ash trees to fire wood and furniture lumber, spruce to structural lumber, and dark walnut, maple and oak to furniture lumber or veneer. Infill planting will be done by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority in 2021. (Photos: Rick Greenlaw)

Hiking trail
About 43 per cent of the 703 acres at King Campus is forested. Many of the hiking trails are located within the forested areas and provide opportunities for nature appreciation and education. Maintaining the forest in a safe condition and maintaining an attractive, functioning trail system are important forestry management priorities.