The Renfrew County Chapter initially started as the Renfrew County Woodlot Owner's Association in 1996 when changes in the mandate of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources significantly reduced the assistance to private landowners. Membership included individuals who owned anywhere between two to 5,000 acres of forest in the area. The goal of the chapter was to encourage sustainable woodlot management on private land forests. This goal of improving the health of members' woodlots was promoted by sharing ideas on forest management to meet their individual objectives such as enhancing wildlife or improving timber sales.
In 2002, the Renfrew County Woodlot Association joined as a chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA). One of the advantages of membership in the OWA includes provincial representation. The OWA speaks to government, forest industry and other organizations on issues (e.g., taxation, forest regeneration techniques, marketing of forest products and the need to influence government policy) that affect ownership and management of privately owned forests in Ontario.
Renfrew County has a wide diversity of forests, topography, lakes and wetlands. The rugged Canadian shield dominates a good portion of the county and is marked by red and white pine, aspens, red oak and red maple. Tolerant hardwoods such as sugar maple, beech, and basswood prefer better soil sites. Sandy flats enjoy jack pine while the west end of the county is more boreal like with aspen, birch, spruce and fir. Finally the east includes agricultural clay soils and support mixed woods with elm, green ash and bur oak.
Forestry is a vital part of Renfrew County. Approximately 265,100 hectares (655,100 acres) of the forest is private land which represents fifty-three percent of the county. Over 100 forest product companies depend on the forests.
The Renfrew Chapter of OWA carries out several activities throughout the year to promote appreciation for good forest management. Every spring the Annual General Meeting is open to members and the general public. Guest speakers provide a detailed look at various aspects of forestry impacting the county and upcoming woodlot visits is announced. Several woodlot visits are organized by the chapter to provide the opportunity to view and discuss forest management strategies to meet a variety of objectives and deal with the wide diversity of forests found in the county; including red pine plantations. In addition to the site visits the chapter hosts the annual Renfrew County Outdoor Woodlot Conference in the fall. The chapter is also active in educating the next generation by conducting a school program for grade 6, 7 and 8 students which includes both in class sessions and a full day field trip exploring wetland and forest ecology.
In summary, the Renfrew Chapter offers a variety of programs and events to assist the woodlot owner. Besides the various official activities conducted by the Chapter, members can access the network of individuals familiar with the Ottawa Valley forestry. Many members have forestry training, woodlot management experience or marketing experience. This results in peer to peer advice and practical experience from those who have been successful as well as those that have tried it and learned from their mistakes.
President - John M. Stuart
Secretary - Robin Cunningham
Treasurer - Katalijn MacAfee
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