A program to rebuild the calcium in our forests and waterways is starting.
The AshMuskoka Project is a unique collaboration between scientists, municipal officials and property owners, with focus on the region’s maple sugar producers.
Norman Yan, one of the nation’s leading freshwater biologists and the chair of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed says it’s important to get calcium returned to the eco-system.
“We’ve known for a long time that calcium is a key factor in our forests and waterways and wood ash is an efficient way to return calcium back into the forest and from there into the waterways.”
Between five and 10 tonnes of ash is going to be spread around test plots within Muskoka’s sugar bush areas. Sugar maple trees are particularly prone to calcium loss and are quick to benefit from the restoration of calcium levels. All life needs calcium. Forests are about 2 per cent calcium by weight. When it is missing trees and other forest plants don’t grow as quickly.
Freshwater creatures such as crayfish, turtles, and mollusks are heavily dependent on calcium as well. Lakes with a sharp decline in calcium have seen crayfish diversity fall by 25 per cent. The reintroduction of ash will provide multiple benefits with other key nutrients like potassium and magnesium making it the perfect natural soil fertilizer.
Currently, the Muskoka Watershed is recruiting 100-200 people who are willing to donate their wood ash. The District Municipality of Muskoka will use its transfer stations to collect the ash from contributors.
“If you want to contribute your ash to help save our forest, please stockpile it for now and email us at [email protected] for further information.