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The Regional Municipality of Niagara, or simply the Niagara Region, includes the northernmost range of the Carolinian ecological zone. Because of its location between Lakes Erie and Ontario, its rich agricultural soils, natural features, and unique climate, Niagara comprises a natural area unlike any other in the Province of Ontario.
Covering 1896 sq. km (715 sq. miles), Niagara is made up of 12 distinct local municipalities, varying from the larger populated cities of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, to Wainfleet and West Lincoln with a more rural and natural setting. Our wine industry, tender fruit industry, and greenhouse businesses contribute to the economic wealth of the region, and, in part, attract the 12 million tourists who visit the Region annually. The woodlands of the Region and the Niagara Escarpment lands also attract tourists seeking natural surroundings.
The wooded area of Niagara covers about 12% of the total acreage, substantially less than the 30% which wildlife experts would consider ideal for the many species of birds, mammals, and other animals found in the Region. The forested areas vary from dry uplands with red oak, white oak, shagbark hickory, sugar maple, white ash, beech, basswood, black walnut, tuliptree, sassafras and many other species, to low wetlands supporting pin oak, burr oak, green ash, red and silver maple, black gum, paw-paw, and the rare cucumber magnolia. Some previous planting sites added white spruce, white pine, Scots pine, and tamarack to the existing white cedar, hemlock and eastern red-cedar (juniper); however, the original prevailing forests were principally hardwoods rather than conifers.
The Niagara Woodlot Association (NWA) was originally founded in 1998, with the mission of encouraging healthy woodlands in Niagara. Its goal was, and is, to encourage the development, improvement and responsible management of private woodlands. The Niagara Woodlot Association officially voted to join the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA) as the Niagara Chapter, at the NWA’s 2001 Annual General Meeting. Among the reasons for joining were the availability of affordable liability insurance coverage through OWA, the access to and use of the OWA’s website, the high quality and moderate cost of the OWA’s quarterly newsletter, and the increased ability for networking with other woodlot groups.
The Niagara Chapter conducts several events per year, such as observational walks in member woodlots, portable sawmill demonstrations, tree marking, seminars on woodlot pests and management, and tours to forestry-related businesses. The chapter has made presentations to the Regional Government on such topics as the Region’s Forest and Tree Conservation Bylaw, rare tree preservation, and the Region’s Environmental Conservation Policy. A Niagara Chapter member sits on the Tree Conservation Bylaw Advisory Committee. Niagara Chapter was also pleased to host the first OWA Chapter Summit meeting, in fall 2005.