Monday, October 21, 2013 1:58:05 EDT PM
From the history of logging in Algonquin Park to current forest management practices, 37 students and teachers from across southern Ontario had the opportunity to get the behind the scenes tour of forestry in one of Ontario’s most popular parks.
The students and teachers, participating in Forestry Connects – a program of the Ontario Forestry Association – spent three days in the field learning about the value of forestry to Algonquin Park and the surrounding communities. They interacted with stakeholders in the forest management process and gained a greater understanding of the challenges in balancing multiple needs and goals. More than 20 schools from across Ontario applied to participate in the program. However, only nine were selected and included schools from Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, Ottawa, Ingersoll, Stayner and Saugeen.
Now in its third year, the program aims to dispel myths about forestry while exposing high school students to the variety of careers available in the natural resources. In previous years program participants travelled to Dryden in Northwestern Ontario to learn about forest management in the boreal. Providing students with direct exposure to current forestry practices in Ontario can help to broaden the understanding of forestry in our province.
While many of the students and teachers arrived with little to no knowledge about forestry in Algonquin Park, all walked away with a new appreciation of the role that the industry plays in our province. Students cited the program as a great opportunity to be exposed to a variety of careers in forestry and to see Algonquin Park from a different perspective. Teachers indicated the invaluable opportunity to see forestry first-hand and learn about the planning that goes behind managing one of our most important resources.
Tricia Fitzpatrick, a teacher from Cawthra Park Secondary School in Mississauga, felt that the program helped to dispel many misconceptions she had about forestry in Ontario. “There are many misconceptions out there including how people equate forestry with deforestation and the idea that cutting down a tree is bad and that so much of the propaganda is that ‘you don’t cut’. But to see such forethought in the planning and to hear the foresters talk about sustainability and planning for the future, was eye opening.” Participating teachers said that their approach to teaching forestry in their future classes would reflect a more positive image in forestry following this program. Teachers from previous years have indicated that past student participants enrolled in forestry and natural resource careers as a direct result of their involvement with Forestry Connects.
Partners from around Algonquin Park were critical in making the program a success. Special thanks go to County of Renfrew, Algonquin Forestry Authority, Ontario Parks, Ministry of Natural Resources, McRae Lumber and the Friends of Algonquin Park and to the Ontario Wood program.
Submitted by Jessica Kaknevicius, Program Development Manager – Ontario Forestry Association