Prescribed burn in Ganaraska Forest helps reclaim tall grass prarie

Peterborough, ON, Canada / (CHEXTV)

Some people living south west of Peterborough were looking to the skies today…. Columns of smoke could be seen billowing above Ganaraska Forest.       As Steve Guthrie tells us…     The fire was set on purpose.

 

A company specializing in controlled burning spent the day igniting swaths of clearcut land in the Ganaraska.  The forest includes several acres of what was originally tall grass prairie…a critically endangered ecosystem.  Planted with red pine trees in the 1970s, the decision was made recently to remove the existing trees and undergrowth  in order to create an environment where tall grass species can flourish

 

Fraser Smith, Forester, Ganaraska Conservation Authority

“..There’s species of birds, reptiles, et cetera that are particularly adapted to those prairie grass species on the landscape so they need intermittent fire to reproduce and in order to clear this area and prepare it for those grass species to better establish which we will be seeding afterwards burning is the primary means of getting that going.”

 

Planning such a proscribed burn starts a year in advance.  The ground and vegetation are carefully inspected and the weather is tracked for weeks ahead of the scheduled burn so there are no surprises, long-forgotten shotgun shells notwithstanding

 

sound up boom

 

Jason Sickel, Lands and Forests Consulting.

“That weather takes in temperature, relative humidity, precipitation and wind speed, that gets calculated into fuel moisture levels, the fuel, the ground moisture levels, then that gets calculated in to fire behaviour on site.”

 

Smith says the estimated 12 acres of trees removed represent a small fraction of the total area of the forest, and allowing  the tall grass prairie to reestablish itself will allow for a more varied landscape, which is better for the conservation are in the long run.

 

Steve Guthrie, CHEX Newswatch in the Ganaraska Forest.

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