Sowing The Seeds of the Future Forest
In 2006, the Ignatius Jesuit Centre was thinking seriously about how best to use the 100 acres of its lands to the east of Highway 6. For years, the land had been farmed by the Jesuits, with a portion replanted with trees. After some discussion, the Ignatius Jesuit Centre joined in collaboration with the Guelph International Resource Centre (GIRC) and the “seeds” of the Plant an Old-Growth Forest Project were sown. In 2014, the project's name was changed to the Ignatius Old-Growth Forest, the 500-year project.
Preserve and Restore
The area currently is made up of farm field, meadow, waterways and forest. The banks of the Speed River and parts of the Marden Creek are in the project area. It forms green link between the Guelph Lake Conservation Area and the Guelph-Elora Trail (which connects to the Trans-Canada Trail).
In the restoration work, we will restore the original forest as much as possible. This might include letting the land regenerate itself from its existing seed bank, removing invasive species and planting trees.
We’ll also help restore the Marden Creek as a free–running stream, and create a buffer for sensitive stream corridors from surrounding development. The site provides an opportunity to protect native plant species and associated wildlife habitat by incorporating sufficient setbacks and boundaries from adjacent residential and commercial development pressures.
We’ll also implement measures to counteract the negative impacts of climate change. The regenerated forest will provide increased oxygen and reduced carbon dioxide through the introduction of new plant material acting as nature’s “air filter.”
The project will see the land protected by a conservation easement through the Ontario Farmland Trust ontariofarmlandtrust.ca. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that allows a landowner to stipulate the current and future use of the property that is to be protected. This is a voluntary tool outlining the activities that may or may not be allowed on this particular piece of land. The strength of a conservation easement is that it is bound to the title of the land forever and even if the landowner sells the property in the future, the conservation easement protects the land in perpetuity.
Engage and Educate
The project will play an important role in encouraging sustainable planning initiatives through the engagement of community members. The project promotes the re-establishment of connections to areas of natural and historic significance.
The project is educational, as it will provide an opportunity to engage in outdoor learning experiences and develop a genuine respect for healthy ecosystem processes. The Old-Growth Forest Project offers the setting for educational programs that address sustainability issues such as climate control and will actively engage students in current initiatives that will have local and regional significance.