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About the South West Chapter

The South West Woodlot Association (SWWA) geographically includes the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, County of Essex, and County of Lambton, encompassing Canada’s most southerly region, bordered by Lake Huron to the north, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River to the west, and Lake Erie to the south. We are within the Carolinian Ecological Zone. 

A group of woodlot owners established the Lambton County Woodlot Owners Association in 1994. In 2005 the Association voted to join the Ontario Woodlot Association. It became the South West Woodlot Association in 2016, reflecting the broader area of Ontario’s deep south.  

The SWWA shares the goal of the OWA and sister chapters of educating and supporting both landowners and interested citizens towards achieving the environmental, social, and economic benefits of active forest management.

Our moderate climate, adequate rainfall, and wide-ranging soil types allow for a rich variety of deciduous trees and shrubs. Lambton County lies at the northern limit for many species found nowhere else in Canada. Some well known Carolinian trees include the Tulip Tree, Sassafras, Sycamore, Kentucky Coffee Tree and Paw Paw.

In promoting woodlots and their importance, the South West chapter holds educational events throughout the year. We plan Spring and Fall tours to local woodlots, with commentary by a Forester or nature expert.  A highlight is the Annual Information Day and Bus Tour (usually in August) with, for example, stops at woodlots of interest, nature reserves, woodworking shops, sawmills, and other wood industry locations of interest.  

In recognition of local woodlot owners who display good woodlot management practices, a yearly Woodlot Management Award has been established to acknowledge their achievements. 

We partner with The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) and The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA). 

Of interest to SWWA members is the newly updated “Afforestation Guide for Southern Ontario (2022)”.  The guide is publicly available and an extremely useful resource. It is a culmination of many years of expertise from forestry experts and highly skilled practitioners representing a number or organizations including the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNDMNRF), Conservation Authorities, private consultants, Forests Ontario, nurseries, academic and research institutions, and a number of other highly esteemed organizations.  To access this resource go to the  Landing page: https://www.ontario.ca/page/forest-management-guidesSpecial thanks goes to Eric Boysen for his work coordinating the guide.

The South West Chapter invites woodlot owners, families, individuals, and anyone with an interest in trees and forests to become members. (See us on Facebook) 

Chapter Board

President - Betty Hubbell

Vice President - Dave Ferguson 

Past President - Tom Park

Secretary/Treasurer - Dave Braet (519-882-1829)

Annual Meeting and Information Day

Saturday Mar 25th 2023, 1:00 to 4:00 pm

Poster with all event information is available here. 

SWWA Fall Tour 2022

On a cool Saturday morning in October, a group tour was conducted on Dave Ferguson’s property, which is a few miles north of Alvinston near Brown Creek.

Twenty people were in attendance, both members and non-members, and coffee was offered as guests arrived. The walk began from Dave's home down to an area of prairie grass and ponds which would be a great habitat for ducks.

This area has been restored through the assistance of Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS). ALUS helps farmers build nature based solutions on their land such as wetland restoration and enhancement, prairie grass restoration, along with other projects to contribute to a healthy environment.

Moving along into the wooded area, there is a large quantity of maturing walnut trees of value for lumber and the potential for veneer logs. Dave expressed his goal that this growth of walnut trees would be a valuable resource to maintain for future generations of his family.

In the mixed deciduous woodland, the Great Blue Heron have built their nests high aloft in the large beech trees.

Another unique feature on this tour was to view the many stands of Pawpaw that Dave has nurtured. The pawpaw trees were shaken to release the green pawpaws as seen in the photos. Donald Craig was in attendance on the tour and was able to provide his insight on growing pawpaw on his property.

Donald also provided commentary as always as we moved through the woodlands.

Dave Ferguson’s property has many diverse and unique features that contributed to an entertaining tour and an insight into the natural environmental work that can be accomplished when a property owner has a goal and plan for the future.

Written by Tom Park

Summary of our Tree Growers Information Day and Bus Tour, 2022

On Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, the South West Woodlot Association hosted the Annual Information Day and Bus Tour. We had a full bus, and perfect weather for our day out and about in Chatham-Kent, Elgin, and Middlesex County.

Gathering at the Bothwell arena, we shared coffee and cookies, then set off at 9:00 sharp.

Donald Craig commentated as the bus rolled along, assisted by Rick Wilkins.

First stop was Heavenly Earth Nursery, owned by Elizabeth Marshall and Dale Sayer. Elizabeth led us on a tour of her grounds, with many native species on display, some potted ready for sale to the public. Of particular interest were the caterpillars, larvae of the Giant Swallowtail, spotted munching on the leaves of a Hop Tree (one of only two species of plant the Giant Swallowtail can live on). Elizabeth's enthusiasm for growing native species is infectious!

Second stop was at the home and workshop of Al Gosnell, Bowyer. He led us into his grove of Osage Orange trees, planted specifically for their use in making bows, and we learned that the oil in this species is what makes it perfect for Al's craft. He showed us the starting block, cut from a limb from his trees, a rough cut bow, and the process for turning it into a beautiful instrument. Examples of his work included bows decorated with sinew and snake skin. He also makes arrows using Ash wood, and turkey feathers for the flights. As we departed, he demonstrated, with impressive accuracy, his bows and arrows in action.

Clear Creek Forest was next on the tour, and we picked up two commentators, Jill Crosthwaite, of the Nature Conservancy of Canada , and Greg Van Every of the Lower Thames Conservation Authority (LTVCA). The 4402 ha Clear Creek Forest is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and managed by Ontario Parks. It is located in Chatham-Kent, near Clearville. The Property was assembled from several previous owners who used their properties for agricultural purposes. Although some of it was covered in mature deciduous forest and hawthorn forest, over 100 ha has been planted to trees and shrubs, much of it by the LTCVA. Several wetlands and sections of native tall grass prairie have also been established. After viewing the reforested plots from the bus, we walked the trail through the old growth. This closed canopy deciduous forest contains species such as Red Oak, Sugar Maple, American Beech, and Shumard Oak, to name only a few; twenty-four rare vascular plants have been recorded here.

Camp Cataraqui, surrounded by the Clear Creek Provincial Nature Reserve, was first used by Boy Scouts in 1930. Mike Doddman, of Scouts Canada, met us within the Camp grounds and spoke about the history of the camp, and the challenges facing it today. This is a wonderful place for instilling the love of trees and nature in children and teenagers.

Ontario Woodlot Association

10 Campus Dr., Unit 4

Kemptville, Ontario

K0G 1J0

Phone: 613-713-1525
Email: info@ontariowoodlot.com

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