Weeds today, forest tomorrow – boreal forest project going well

Above: Rows of newly planted trees can be a little hard to see for the canola and weeds surrounding them, but the Town says the trees are well protected and positioned for growth.

by Morinville News Staff

Less than two months after 750 trees were planted at the Morinville Fish and Game Association pond trail by the Agroforestry Woodlot Extension Society and the Town of Morinville, the seedlings can be a little difficult to see in the canola and weeds that currently surround them.

Passersby might well think that little care has been taken since the trees were planted June 11 by Luke Wonneck and a team of volunteers who spent a rainy day planting.

But appearances can be deceiving, according to Morinville’s Director of Public Works, Claude Valcourt. The project is doing well – better than expected, Valcourt says.

“The goal is to reproduce a boreal forest with minimal disturbance of the soil and surrounding [area] for better chance of success,” Valcourt told Morinville News in an email interview. “Lots of effort were put forward in finding a way to implement this project with minimal weed maintenance/control. A trench was created as the best option so that soil amendment could be performed on the hard clay and give the sapling the best chance to succeed while minimizing soil structure and related micro-organism.”

Valcourt said each of the 750 saplings has a thick 12-inch square mat (above) that allows the weeds to grow close to the sapling while also assisting in controlling weeds.

“The rows are just wide enough to let our 1-tonne truck go up and down for watering purposes,” Valcourt explained. “Another concern was a means of preventing/controlling rabbits and deer from eating part of the sapling.”

The Public Works Director said only a few of the trees have been touched to date, which is better than the town anticipated.

Valcourt says the urban forest project is being monitored by his department.

“There is a seasonal worker that is monitoring the progress, and if the weeds become a real issue we can mitigate the problem right away,” Valcourt said.

Subsequent to our interview, the Town of Morinville updated us with a photo (above) to let us know the canola and weeds had already been removed from around some of the trees in the project area.

The boreal forest project includes Trembling Aspen, White Birch, White Spruce Tree, Balsam Poplar, Pin Cherry, Dogwood, Pussy Willows and Sandbar Willow.

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