Parks Canada plants 39,000 trees to rehabilitate its forests
'The Acadian forest takes hundreds of years to regenerate to a mature status'
P.E.I. National Park staff and students planted 39,000 trees this summer in an effort to improve the poor condition of the park's forests.
The conditions were flagged in a State of the Parks report in 2014.
"This summer was one of our biggest summers," said Brad Romaniuk, the resource conservation manager for the park.
The 12 summer students and two staff members planted trees for six months.
Although the park is best known for its 65 kilometres of shoreline, beaches and sand dunes, almost half the land in the park has is forested.
'A long process'
Large areas of forest had been harvested for agriculture and shipbuilding before park was created in 1937, and much of the land was then being used for agriculture.
Parks then allowed the land to grow up in white spruce, but for the last 20 years or so has been to restore it to Acadian forest with original species including sugar maple, yellow birch, white pine and red spruce.
"It's a long process, the Acadian forest takes hundreds of years to regenerate to a mature status," Romaniuk said.
Parks also spends a lot of time managing invasive species glossy buckthorn, scotch pine and Japanese knotweed that have given the park's forest a poor rating.
Cost in hundreds of thousands
Robinsons Island in the park, formerly a campground west of Brackley Beach, is one success story in terms of forest ecosystem restoration, with about 3,000 trees planted, Romaniuk said.
The cost of the program is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, Romaniuk said. The trees, sourced from the province's tree nursery, cost from 75 cents to $2 each.
Romaniuk hopes forests will no longer be a concern in noted the next State of the Parks report, due in 2024.
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With files from Laura Chapin