Champlain Oaks

Fostering Forest Succession in Champlain Park by Daniel Buckles

The riverine forest bordering Champlain Park in Westboro (Ottawa) is an integral part of the community experience. Residents and the Champlain Park Community Association (CPCA) have entered into an agreement with the National Capital Commission (NCC) to cooperate in the management of this small forested area between Pontiac Avenue and the Ottawa River Parkway.

On Saturday, Sept 17, 2016 residents planted 25 trees in a corridor connecting Pontiac to walking trails in the forest recently cleared by the NCC of dead ash trees and buckthorn that has come to dominate the understory. The planting included two clumps of yellow birch (7 trees in all), 4 poplar, 11 bur oaks, and three american chestnuts in section 25 of the forest (follow this link to the grid map used to guide projects in the forest). The goal is to reintroduce native and near-native trees species that can support the gradual succession of the flora and fauna towards a mature forest. The NCC plans to do something similar next Spring in other cleared areas of the forest.

The following people contributed during preparations and/or on the day of the planting: Daniel Buckles, Linda Landreville, Meg Milne, Maureen Kavanagh, Debra Huron, Catherine Shearer, Adrian Bradley, Susan Bradley, Eloise Holland, John Arnason, Lianne Bellisario, Chris Henschel, Heather Pearl and Steve Cumbaa. Thank you to all.

The bur oaks are from acorns collected last fall from old growth trees in the neighbourhood (the “Champlain Oaks”). The American Chestnut are from nuts collected and offered to us by Lucas Machias (aka Walter Hingley) of Truro, Nova Scotia. This important tree native to Eastern North America was devastated in the first half of the 20th Century by the chestnut blight (a fungal disease). Let’s see if we can bring it back! The Twigs Nursery, which specializes in native species from locally collected seed, provided a deep discount on the yellow birch and poplar saplings while the Home Hardware on Wellington Street did the same for wire, stakes, soil and bone meal. The Champlain Park Community Association kindly provided a grant to the project, making the scale of the operation possible. Thank you to all.

The same day Nature Canada conducted a “BioBlitz” to identify flora and fauna in the forest during a 24 hour period. They discovered a group of migratory warblers, including a Vireo. While a tiny forest in the middle of a major city, the space shows us that nature hasn’t given up on us yet.

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