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In an effort to improve the health of our forests and create a model for environmental stewardship, Macphail Woods is launching the Restore an Acre initiative. All donations will be used in the restoration of a 220-acre Public Forest on the Selkirk Road (Route #23) in Valley, part of the 2,000 acres we are managing for the provincial government.
This woodland, like most of Prince Edward Island’s forest, is a patchwork of stand types with a mixture of origins. It was once a working farm, with a large area of previously-cleared land towards at the Selkirk Road that has grown up predominantly in white spruce. Some unploughed woodland at the western end of the property contains large yellow birch, sugar maple and hemlock. Several smaller clear cuts of approximately .34 ha each were done in the older hardwoods, date unknown. In 2000, a 4.75 ha clearcut was done and in 2001 blocks of Red spruce and Japanese larch were planted. There are also two black spruce plantations in poor shape, due to excessive competition from alders. This has led to many trees having twisted stems and/or forked tops and survival has been low.
There are two riparian areas and an alder swale that deserve special attention. Riparian zones are among the most productive habitats on Prince Edward Island for both plants and animals. The alder-dominated areas occupy sensitive, wetter soils and care should be taken to avoid any rutting that would compact the soil and disrupt the drainage pattern. Otherwise, the land is relatively flat and well-drained, with sandy soil. Access is good throughout the stands, except for the western end across the stream. The property is obviously capable of growing large-diameter, long-lived trees and but the old farmland will pose special problems for restoration. It lacks seed sources for many of the more desirable species of native trees and shrubs. The roadway running the length of the property offers a great opportunity to add large numbers of native plants that are especially-attractive for wildlife. The edges will have more sunlight over a longer period and allow greater fruiting and flowering of plants such as American mountain ash, serviceberry, highbush cranberry, beaked hazelnut, hawthorn and the elderberries.
The western end of the property composes a key part of the territory of a pair of barred owls, which are regularly seen in the area. There are excellent wildlife trees in this area and care should be taken to ensure that the stand structure is maintained. The area also has several witch hazels growing, one of the province’s rarest native shrubs. The woodlands of the property to the immediate South are home to a nesting pair of Northern goshawks.
There are also thousands of young yellow birch and lesser numbers of red maple and sugar maple along the road that could be transplanted into the patch cuts. Several large piles of wood have been left to rot at the edge of the road.