PEI

How removing trees in Dromore, P.E.I., could help local species thrive

If you've been out hiking in Eastern P.E.I. lately, you may have noticed a section of province-owned forest cleared away.

'It's pretty standard business for us, this is not new'

'It's pretty standard business for us, this is not new. We work with the wildlife biologists and we ... manage larger areas and landscapes,' says Mike Montigny, manager of field services with the Department Environment, Water and Climate Change. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

If you've been out hiking in eastern P.E.I. lately, you may have noticed a section of province-owned forest that has been cleared away.

The province says just under two hectares — or nearly five acres — of mature trees have been cut down recently in the Dromore area, which is designated as a wildlife management area. 

Officials with P.E.I. Fish and Wildlife, a division of the Department of Environment, say there's no cause for alarm.

"It's pretty standard business for us, this is not new. We work with the wildlife biologists and we ... manage larger areas and landscapes," said Mike Montigny, manager of field services with the province.

'I can understand that it looks like there's quite a dramatic change from before but we are harvesting trees and it's not necessarily a bad thing,' Montigny says. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

'Early successional habitat'

"I can understand that it looks like there's quite a dramatic change from before but we are harvesting trees and it's not necessarily a bad thing," Montigny said.  

The wildlife management area in Dromore has been treated to become what is called an "early successional habitat" as a part of a plan to help protect various species that call the area home.

Early successional habitats include weedy areas, grasslands, old fields and young forests, officials said, and wildlife native to the Dromore area tend to thrive in habitats populated by younger forests.

"There's a wide variety of species that benefit from that young fast growing [forest]. So it's important to have diversity on the landscape and truly a balance," said Brad Potter, a manager with fish and wildlife.  

The Dromore area is home to the American woodcox, which nest at the base of trees near the edge of forests. They prefer young saplings or shrubs and need open fields for roosting and singing. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

'Confusion over designated areas'

For instance, the Dromore area is home to the American woodcock, which nest at the base of trees near the edge of forests, according to the province.

They prefer young saplings or shrubs and eat earthworms along the edges of fields, they also require open fields for roosting and singing, officials said.

Potter adds that there tends to be a little confusion over designated lands, noting that wildlife management areas function differently from natural areas. 

Brad Potter says that there tends to be a little confusion with the public over designated lands, noting that wildlife management areas function differently from natural areas.  (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Plans to re-forest

Wildlife management areas include sites across the province that may require conservation, according to the province's website. 

Natural areas include both public and private lands and may cover an entire property or just a specific area within a property.

Sites designated as natural areas may include rare or uncommon plant species, unique geological features, special habitats or habitats that are ecologically fragile and therefore, require additional protection.

The department has plans to re-forest the area with younger trees over the next two weeks, Montigny said.

The mature trees removed from the property have been tendered off and purchased by a local forest contractor, Montigny said.

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With files from Tom Steepe and Jessica Doria-Brown