Why Plant Trees?
Participation in one of CVC’s tree planting programs can help to restore and improve your community and property by:
- increasing property value and adding variety to your landscape
- increasing forest cover
- helping to reduce greenhouse gasses and fight climate change;
- improving the quality of the natural environment
- attracting more wildlife and increasing wildlife habitat
- improving water quality in your streams and ponds
- protecting groundwater supplies
- improving your outdoor recreational activities
Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) undertakes many water and land management projects and it is to the community’s advantage that such projects continue, and develop, to include the private land owners within the Credit Valley Watershed. CVC’s planting programs have been developed to meet the needs of private landowners and to further the CVC’s main objective of protecting the Credit River, those living in the watershed and its wildlife.
Owners of country property often leave their land in a state of undecided land use, struggling with the numerous opportunities which could become a part of its future development. When land is left fallow, it rarely approaches the potential for recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat or aesthetic appeal. Problems associated with soil erosion and land deterioration accelerate, stressing the need for a proper reforestation or naturalization planting plan. Today, more landowners express a desire to enjoy their property, but at the same time, want to continue to enhance the aesthetics, land value and environmental diversity of their property. The CVC is well aware of these opportunities and for many years has provided several planting programs and options to fit each landowners needs.
So how does planting help protect the Credit River and our wildlife? There are many advantages to planting, including combating climate change. But one of the basic reasons you should plant on your property has a lot to do with hydrology. The study of the movement, exchange and storage of water on the earth’s surface is known as hydrology. The hydrologic cycle is a complex but unified process which impacts surface moisture, ecology, flora (vegetation), fauna (animal life), sedimentation, soil transport and is therefore essential to understanding the reasons behind the CVC’s planting programs.
Most surface soils are capable, to varying degrees, of absorbing water, however, quantity and type of vegetation cover greatly affects the ability and capacity to do so. Vegetation acts as a buffer, absorbing and retaining water and later releasing moisture through a combination of evaporation and transpiration (moisture given off to the air from plants). Vegetation also stores water on the canopy, stems, and plant tissues.
Where precipitation is not intercepted by vegetation, it reaches the ground and is either absorbed or runs off into streams as surface drainage. When surface runoff becomes excessive, unprotected loose soils are eroded. When most or all of the organic soil layer becomes eroded and mineral soils are exposed, little or no vegetation can take root to stabilize the bare earth. Since vegetation cover represents a key element of habitat, wildlife potential is severely limited in these areas.
Eroded soils and fine sediments are eventually washed into streams. By burying fish spawning beds, filling deep pools, covering aquatic vegetation or blocking ground water sources to the stream, these materials reduce the quality of in stream habitat for fish and other species upon which fish depend.
Forest litter can act as mulch protecting surface soil from erosion and helping to maintain the soil porosity(the spaces between soil particles important for water storage, aeration and nutrient retention). Root systems also help to prevent this soil compaction, thus further enhancing absorption of water. Infiltration and absorption encouraged by vegetation thereby reduces flooding potential. This retained moisture helps recharge the supply of water beneath the ground which are slowly discharges to surface water bodies and streams throughout the year. In this way stream flow during dry conditions are maintained.
Beyond the hydrological benefits of planting, adding trees around existing woodlots can increase habitat for our woodland song birds and increase interior core woodland habitat. Even adjacent open areas can benefit from planting by protecting your home, fields and croplands with windbreaks and shelterbelts or even by planting a natural snow fence. These planted areas also serve to create more privacy, help to reduce road noise and improve property aesthetics all of which can increase your property value. Even recreational opportunities are enhanced with opportunities for woodland trails and added diversity on your property.
CVC bases its land management programs on tree and shrub planting keeping these relationships in mind. Reforestation or Naturalization is therefore an important link in a chain of events which, if undertaken will complement your property management objectives, all elements of the hydrological cycle and help ecological processes within the watershed.