Last December’s ice storm left its mark on our woodlands. The severe damage was costly to our tree canopy and pocketbooks. There is still some good, though, that can come from the devastation.

Fallen trees and extra woody debris are important for healthy forests, streams and wildlife. Dead wood provides habitat or refuge for wildlife on your property. As many as 50 wildlife species in Ontario use this woody debris for nesting, resting or to escape predators. This includes insects, salamanders, woodpeckers, chickadees, flying squirrels and raccoons, to name a few.

Yellow Spotted Salamander by Jon Clayton

You may be tempted to clean-up your forest and remove all excess debris. Remember, though, that it’s important to leave dead wood that isn’t a safety or fire hazard. Mother Nature will repurpose this material.

Decomposing trees and branches return nutrients to the soil. This helps nourish the remaining trees and provides nursery habitats for plants and new trees.

Decomposing logs also store water and release it back to the soil during dry summer months. This important function helps maintain groundwater and can reduce flooding and erosion.

We cannot control severe weather systems that may leave our forests and trees broken or beaten. We can, however, look for other benefits and do our part to help recover our precious woodland resources. To learn more about healthy woodlots visit

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