Editor: In reading the recent local media article containing the concerns of East Kent councillors regarding the temporary woodlot bylaw, it is clear that there is an abundance of confusion and misunderstanding. First off, the bylaw has one and only one main intent and that is to stop the clear cutting of our threatened Carolinian woodlots within C-K.
Any landowner can arrange for logging their woodlot with the only restriction being that it has to be done applying best forestry practices. This is only common sense as it ensures that the landowner maximizes the long-term financial returns from their woodlot.
I personally know a woodlot owner who tripled their logging income by using the advice of a registered forester.
The bylaw also prevents the “victimization” of the natural heritage and citizens of C-K by investment groups who are intent on financial returns by buying farmland in C-K and in their words “optimizing” the land for financial returns. These opportunistic investors are frequently from outside C-K and have zero regard for any environmental consequences.
They focus on C-K because, unlike other jurisdiction across Ontario, we have been mired in self-destructive rhetoric as our forests have literally burned to the tune of approximately 1,600 acres of rare Carolinian forest since 2013 alone. To suggest that 1 million seedlings planted can compensate for the over 1 million woodlot trees lost is well intentioned but simply unrealistic.
Also, to correct alarmist information in the article, the bylaw has no differential restrictions based on urban or rural. There is no restriction on the removal of individual trees anywhere.
In regard to the request for facts and figures, the LTVCA has all the information required for any rational and responsible decision, and the data is alarming.
I do agree with the councillors quoted that the municipality itself is deficient in land stewardship. This then begs the question as to who is actually making policy decisions in C-K. If there is an obvious and existing problem, then here is a great leadership opportunity for our council.
In regard to landowner compensation for maintaining their woodlot, this is a reasonable proposal that can only be achieved through dialogue with landowners as is the intent in Coun. Hall’s motion. In order to facilitate this process, some new and younger faces on both sides of the negotiating table as compared to 2014 would obviously be beneficial.
It is abundantly obvious that the world is changing fast, especially in regards to crop production around the world. In general, it is the younger group on council and in the community who have the most at stake in realizing that we cannot ignore the warnings and the abundant data from organizations such as: the UN, OMAFRA, the OFA, Carolinian Canada and the University of Guelph. They clearly and urgently explain that we must prepare for the future by preserving and enhancing tree cover in Ontario and beyond.
Unfortunately, the future has already arrived with the reported droughts, crop failures, and fires in the Western U.S. and the Canadian Prairies. Hundreds of farmers are presently facing ruin as we here in C-K pretend that we are on another planet. In fact, the Upper Thames Conservation Authority has just issued a warning for a possible water shortage in our area for this summer.
Some naively destroy and irresponsibly burn their woodlots as if there is no tomorrow and seemingly are oblivious to the clearly predicted consequences that also contribute to the agony of other farmers.
Good soil is no defense against adverse weather but woodlots clearly are.
As a final point, the article stated that both sides of the issue were represented in deputations to council. To clarify, there were 21 deputations submitted. Of the 21, 16 were for the bylaw and five were against. Of the 16 for, the vast majority are woodlot owners and farmers including 10 younger landowners from East Kent where the recent and ongoing woodlot destruction is most evident.
If our councillors are not representing the wishes of the majority of their electorate, especially younger landowners, then woodlot clear cutting is not the only serious concern that we should have.
40-acre woodlot owner