If your plantation was unhealthy, would you know the signs?
Fifteen per cent of the Credit River Watershed’s forests are plantations. Most were planted using tractor-drawn machines in old fields as a cost-effective way of increasing forest cover. Coniferous trees, like pine and spruce, were often used since they’re less susceptible to animal browsing and hardy enough to withstand the harsh conditions of open sites.
In order for plantations to transition to a more naturalized forest, they require management. CVC’s forestry team found that 84 per cent of sampled plantations 30 years or older were unmanaged and nearly one in four were at risk of failure. Failing plantations can turn into thickets as trees die off and invasive species take over.
Periodic thinning can keep plantations healthy. Typically, plantations 25-30 years old require thinning every 8-10 years. Thinning removes diseased or damaged trees and leaves the best ones standing. It allows more sunlight to reach the soil to allow native plants to grow. Along with thinning, monitoring and managing invasive species is important to maintaining plantation health. Identify problem plants early to avoid harmful and costly infestations.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, your plantation may be at risk. Connect with a stewardship coordinator to help you get started with a plantation management plan.
- My plantation is older than 30 years and has never been thinned.
- Invasive species like European buckthorn, dog-strangling vine or garlic mustard are growing in my plantation.
- There’s serious damage from wind and ice such as broken treetops, split trunks, and uprooted trees.
- I see a number of heavily leaning trees in my plantation.
- There’s visible damage from disease or insects, such as discolored or missing needles, cankers and galls on stems and branches, and oozing resin.
- I’ve noticed many of the trees have died or are dying.