Local Lions Clubs plant a legacy in Norfolk County
Volunteer groups donate 30,000 trees to Backus Woods Conservation Area
There’s no better way to immortalize a legacy than by planting a tree. Together with the community it helps sustain, a tree can grow, flourish, nourish and endure. That’s why Lions Clubs in southwestern Ontario partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to reforest conservation lands in Norfolk County, as their way to mark 100 years of community engagement.
This National Forest Week (September 19–25), Lions Clubs around Norfolk County are celebrating the conclusion of their centennial project. Together with NCC, these devoted community groups planted 10,000 trees near Port Rowan, on NCC conservation properties surrounding Backus Woods, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lions Club International.
The District A-2 Lions Clubs from Tillsonburg, St. David’s and Simcoe have spent the last decade raising money and volunteer power to buy and plant these seedlings, ultimately helping to plant over 30,000 trees and restore 51 hectares (126 acres) of habitat in Norfolk County.
“We are extremely grateful for the support the Lions Clubs have given to NCC in the region,” said Liv Monck-Whipp, NCC’s conservation biology coordinator for Norfolk County and Niagara Region. “By restoring forests to this land, the Lions and NCC are offering future homes to at-risk species, like cerulean warbler and Blanding’s turtle, and are helping ensure that neighbours will see the benefits of intact natural areas, which help clean their air and water.”
By expanding the forests surrounding Backus Woods by 51 hectares (126 acres), the Lions Clubs and NCC are helping relieve the pressure put on the plants and animals that live in the region. Connected forest corridors allow plants, mammals, birds and insects to move more freely, unimpeded by human development. The seedlings planted between 2012 and today will form a young forest in 50 years and will mature to match the stature of the trees around them within the next century. NCC will continue to conserve and steward the lands restored by this partnership with District A-2 Lions Clubs for the long term, including managing invasive species and monitoring to ensure restoration success.
The partnership between NCC and District A-2 Lions Clubs began with 10,000 trees in 2012. Then, the District A-2 Lions Clubs took up the call from the international volunteer organization’s president to plant one million trees in a year across the Lions network. Subsequent planting events in 2017, 2018 and 2021 have led to the reforestation of the area announced today.
“It’s been a fulfilling experience to plant trees with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Norfolk County. I greatly admire staff’s commitment to creating a better environment,” said Paul De Cloet, Lions Club A-2’s forestry advisor and local champion for tree planting partnerships.
Backus Woods was acquired by NCC in 2011 and boasts a network of public trails and a variety of landscapes. This magnificent forest is home to some of the oldest living trees in Ontario, which form a haven for many rare and at-risk species. It is a forest treasured by the residents of Norfolk County.
Since 2011, more than 150 volunteers from the Lions Clubs, Scouts Canada and NCC have participated in the planting push at Backus Woods.
In 2012, volunteers planted more than 10,000 seedlings in a single day on an NCC property near Backus Woods.
Backus Woods provides important habitat for prothonotary and cerulean warblers, Louisiana waterthrush, eastern foxsnake, Blanding’s turtle and Jefferson salamander.
In 2016, UNESCO recognized Backus Woods as an ecological site of global importance by approving the addition of Backus Woods to the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve.
Backus Woods is part of the Carolinian life zone, which makes up less than one per cent of Canada’s land mass. Still, this zone is home to 25 per cent of the country’s population and provides habitat for nearly 25 per cent of its endangered species.
The Lions Clubs and NCC planted a variety of coniferous and deciduous tree species, including red and white oak, tamarack, black cherry, white pine, yellow birch and tulip trees.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect 14 million hectares (35 million acres), coast to coast to coast, with more than 84,000 hectares (207,000 acres) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
Lions Clubs International is the largest service club organization in the world. More than 1.4 million members in over 49,000 clubs are serving in 200 countries and geographic areas around the globe. Since 1917, Lions have strengthened local communities through hands-on service and humanitarian projects, and they extend their service impact through the generous support of the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Lions are focused on supporting vision, the environment, childhood cancer, hunger, diabetes, and other pressing humanitarian needs to help address some of the biggest challenges facing humanity. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit lionsclubs.org.
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