15 December 2006

Reforestation Project

As I mentioned in the previous post, I was looking at a website linked to ThatRoundhouse.info. Interestingly, the website (http://www.konsk.co.uk/) discussed a small reforestation project.

Currently, I am in the process of reforesting between 2 and 2.5 acres (around 1 hectare) of land. This spring, I will be planting trees ordered from the Saratoga Tree Nursery and our local Soil and Water Conservation District. Though I haven't finalized my decision, I'm planning on planting:

250 Eastern White Pines (native to our farm)
250 Norway Spruces (native to Europe, but very well adapted)
100 Concolor Firs (native to Southwestern North America)

I'm also considering Blue and White Spruces (Picea pungens and glauca, respectively). Both of these species are native to North America, the latter being found in our area.

There are a number of challenges to selecting species. First and foremost is global warming. Our climate has become increasingly warmer. Currently, we are in the American Horticultural Society's Heat Zone 4. I think it is likely that we will be in Heat Zone 6 before the end of my lifetime. That is too warm for some of the species that are currently in the area, but at the extreme southern end of their range. These include Tamarack (Larix laricina), Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), and the aforementioned White Spruce.

There are additional considerations including site and soil characteristics. While I would like to (re)establish a mixed hard- and softwood forest, it is extremely difficult to establish hardwoods. After extensive research and speaking with area foresters, I came to the conclusion that planting colonizer species is a better strategy. In 30 to 50 years, forest hardwoods will begin to establish themselves. For now, I will transplant Quaking Aspens (Populus tremuloides) and native Cherries (Prunus spp.) to the areas between the conifer plantings.

Before I can plant trees in the reforestation area, I have to clear the old vineyard. This involves removing wires, posts, and vines. I began this task in November, worked hard around Thanksgiving, and have continued on the weekends. It will be complete by the end of the year...

In the end, I am hoping to establish a forest that will serve as wildlife habitat, a shady retreat, and a place to commune with nature. While we have access to (and will someday inherit) 20 acres of forest up the hill, it is too far from the house to reach quickly (about a 15 minute walk if the ground is dry). For this reason, I look forward to establishing a small wooded area near the house.

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