Saturday, July 17, 2010

Forest Management

We live on 120 acres in Northern Ontario. The property had been logged about 7 years before we bought it, nearly ten years ago now. As a result we have huge scruff piles- piles of wood wasted by the logging company, because it didn't meet their size or type requirements- in various locations. We cut a lot of it for firewood the first two years, but now it's too old and rotten to be useful. We had two large clearings- about 20 acres- that the logging company had made. I had planned to grow oats in one and hay in the other. Now they're the beginnings of a new forest. Mostly covered in alders- these weird bushy little trees that die off after 5 or 10 years.

Between the two clearings there's a patch of poplar forest, maybe 10 acres in size. It was probably the result of a previous logging. The poplars are too close together, can't get enough sunlight, to grow up into big trees. The smaller ones are starting to die.

We've decide to fence off this section as pasture for now. It could be many years before I'm ready to plant those oats, and the horses will help keep the alders and brush down in the meantime. It also gives us another section of pasture to keep us from having to buy hay in the summer.

Before we fence it off and move the horses in though, we've started cutting out some of the larger poplars. Thinning the bush. The smaller poplars will get more sunlight, and a better chance to grow up. We'll get some winter wood, and some poles to build with- repairs needed on the garage lean-to, and still need to build a proper wood shed.

Around the outside of our pasture we also have some woodland and clearings, up to the trail that cuts through the centre of our property. We're planning to fence off along the edge of the trail, to also give us more pasture. In one corner we have the beginnings of a pine forest, but it's also having the same issues as the poplars. The trees are too close together to grow up. Another section to thin out. Hopefully in years to come we'll achieve a nice mixture of mature trees and pasture.

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