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The County of Lambton is located in Southwestern Ontario bordering the southeast shoreline of Lake Huron. The County is home to some 126,000 residents. Encompassing roughly 1,816 square km, Lambton County is further broken down into 11 local municipalities ranging from our lone city, Sarnia, to the more typical rural centers such as Petrolia, Forest and Grand Bend. While better known for its agriculture and oil wells, Lambton also has the distinction of being located within the Carolinian Ecological Zone.
Our moderate climate, adequate rainfall, and wide-ranging soil types allow for a rich variety of deciduous trees and shrubs. This diversity is probably the Carolinian region’s greatest attraction. Lambton County lies at the northern limit for many southern species found nowhere else in Canada. Some well known Carolinian trees include the tulip tree, sassafras, sycamore, Kentucky coffee tree and paw paw.
Until the early 1800’s much of the County was covered in forest. However as settlers moved in to the region large tracts of forest were cleared and were swamps drained exposing rich fertile soils ideal for agriculture.
Today Lambton County has approximately 10% forest cover. However, there are three sites with extremely important ecosystems provincially and even internationally within the County.
Walpole Island First Nation (Bkejwanong) supports some of the most biologically diverse natural areas remaining in Canada. It has one of the largest tracts of forest cover in southwestern Ontario, species-rich coastal waterways, one of the largest wetland systems in the Great Lakes Basin, and extensive areas of rare tall grass prairie and oak savanna. These ecosystems provide habitat for over 10 % of Canada's species at risk.
Bickford Oak Woods is the largest Carolinian clay plain forest in Canada outside of First Nation lands. It supports a rich variety of species including the provincially rare pin oak, shumard oak and buttonbush thicket as well as rare and threatened bird species such as cerulean warbler, tufted titmouse and Carolina wren. This area also has “swamp cottonwood” which is a rare tree first identified at this location in 2002 and remains the only known population in Canada. It is currently a candidate for endangered species status.
The Pinery Provincial Park contains the world’s largest intact oak savanna ecosystem. Unfortunately, a misguided white pine planting program in the late 1950's almost destroyed it. It was not until the 1980s that it was realized howrare and fragile the park's oak savanna ecosystem was. This globally rare habitat is a transition zone between prairie grasslands and oak forests that is kept stable by periodic forest fires. Over 99.93% of the oak savanna in the world has been devastated or altered. However, through deliberate management techniques such as prescribed burns and extensive pine cutting programs, Pinery has restored its oak savanna ecosystems. The Pinery now protects almost 50% of the remaining oak savanna in the world.
The Lambton County Woodlot Owners Association was established by a group of resident woodlot owners in 1994. In the spring of 2005 the Association voted to join and became the Lambton Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association.
Since its inception the Lambton Chapter’s fundamental purpose has been to encourage sustainable forest practices by helping landowners acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to do this.
In promoting woodlots and their importance, the Lambton chapter holds educational events throughout the year. Typical outings involve visits to managed and unmanaged woodlots, tree-planting demonstrations, sawmill tours, and much more. A highlight is the annual tree grower’s information day and bus tour sponsored in part by the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority in conjunction with the Lambton Chapter.
In recognition of local woodlot owners who display good woodlot management practices, a yearly woodlot management award has been established to acknowledge their achievements.
The Lambton Chapter invites woodlot owners, families, individuals, or anyone with an interest in trees and forests to become members.