Graves Island Restoration Work to Begin

first_imgA rejuvenated forest will start to take shape at Graves Island Provincial Park after unhealthy white spruce trees are felled to make room for more diverse and longer-living species. About 10 to 12 acres of dead or dying white spruce will be cut as part of an ecological restoration project that begins at the Lunenburg County park on Tuesday, Oct. 9. “The majority of the forest on Graves Island is dead or dying,” said Art Lynds, a provincial park ecologist at the Department of Natural Resources. “We have done a full vegetation management review of the area and determined we need to take drastic action to not only restore the ecological balance, but also to ensure public safety.” While downing the trees will change the look of the park, it will help reduce the risk of forest fire and of falling limbs or trees. It is also a necessary first step to restore some of the area’s natural beauty and establish a more natural mix of tree species. Mr. Lynds said the island was once used as agricultural land. When it was allowed to grow back, white spruce quickly filled it in. “But white spruce are a short-lived species and, as they age, they are more subject to rot and to infestations by bark beetles. That can become even more of a problem in an area where there isn’t a healthy mix of tree species. That is what has happened at Graves Island,” said Mr. Lynds. The felled white spruce trees will be left on the forest floor where they will decompose, offering nutrients to the soil and habitat for area wildlife. To help ensure that the new forest is more diverse, and better represents the naturally occurring Acadian forest, the department will supplement natural regeneration by planting white pine, red oak, sugar maple and yellow birch — trees that would have been part of the natural forest in the area. “The cutting and some planting will take place over the next several weeks but this is a long-term project,” said Mr. Lynds. “We may not see the benefits of this work for several years but, in the end, it will provide a diversified, healthy forest for the park.” The provincial park will be closed for the season by the time work begins. Still, officials are asking people who like to walk in the area to respect the Danger and Do Not Enter signs that will be posted on the site during restoration work.last_img

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