Kensington North Watersheds Association

County Line Courier Articles

Forests In Our Kensington Area - the Bad, and the Good ...

(2013-10-23) The roles that forests play in our Kensington area often go unnoticed. Forests provide a wide range of wildlife habitat - homes for mammals, birds, insects, and microbial life. The forests provide an important balance to our human activities of housing, roads, agriculture and industry. Our forests capture carbon from the atmosphere and use it to produce wood. They play a crucial role in recharging our water table, as rain and snow in the forest generally soaks into the ground to a greater extent than hard surfaces (roads, buildings) and open fields (which have more surface runoff and evaporation). There are many other benefits we receive from healthy forests.

Our forests face many challenges, not in least is the resurgence in recent years of Bark Beetle. The winters of the last few years have become milder, and the sterilizing effect of cold temperatures has not regularly occurred. The result is that certain pests in our area, such as the bark beetle, have been able to survive winter in better shape and in greater numbers. The effect of this more robust bark beetle population has been much greater losses of trees, especially older spruce. According to Steven DeWolfe, a Forest Technician with the PEI Dept. of Environment, Labour and Justice, these beetles will target older spruce which may have other health issues as they occur in their mature stage. The larvae of bark beetles will quickly feed on the soft fiber under the bark that acts as the tree's vascular system, transporting water and nutrients back and forth from the roots to the leaves/needles.

Bark beetle infestations have left stands of mature spruce with many dead trees close together. The beetles move from an infected tree to a healthier tree close by. Bark beetle infestations of this kind can be found in the watersheds of Oyster Cove, Spring Valley Brook, MacIntyres Creek. and others.

Spruce stands in central PEI seem to be particularly affected. The solutions are not easy. Infected trees need to be cut and burned or buried. Infected stands of trees often involve more than one property, and requires the cooperation of multiple land owners. The cost of identifying, cutting and removing infected trees is high - so high that in the vast majority of cases, it simply is not done.

The crisis that the bark beetle has created in mature spruce stands has created an opportunity to plant other species beneath them. The partial shade that the dead and dying trees provide is excellent habitat for young sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, and other species.

Kensington North will identify stands of dying spruce in riparian zones (close to waterways) and under-plant them with appropriate species, in cooperation with landowners. If you see a stand of dying spruce, please let us know so we can try to include it in our work. Contact us at or 432-4988.

The news in the forest isn't all bad. In the next issue of the CLC, we will report on an exciting and uplifting story from our forests.

The article can be found online in The County Line Courier, Vol. 21, No. 20, Pg. 10.

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