Making a difference as a landowner
Landholdings in the Beaver Hills include small acreages, hobby farms and recreational properties. As a landowner you want to do the right thing for your property. The following information, excerpted from The Green Acreages Guide Primer can help you identify
stewardship practices that will help you conserve and protect the valuable natural assets associated with your property. To fully assess what you can do on your property, you will want to work through the Green Acreages Guide Workbook, available from the Land Stewardship Centre
The following are areas where you can focus your stewardship efforts:
Trees and Woodlots
A watershed is an area of land that drains into a particular body of water. Understanding where you are in the local watershed will help you understand how the water flows on and around your property, whether you are upstream or downstream of major users and the potential for pollution to enter local bodies of water.
Though sandy beaches are appealing, if your lakeshore does not have one it is best to maintain a buffer of natural vegetation between your lawn and the lake to help reduce wind and water erosion, keeping sediment, nutrients and contaminants from washing into the water. Construction or the creation of a sand beach can increase the risk of erosion and result in destruction of wildlife habitat and deterioration of water quality.
Riparian areas are the strip of land next to streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. The variety of soil types, moisture and temperature found in riparian areas creates the ideal environment for different types of plants and animals to exist together in a small area, making riparian areas extremely productive. A healthy riparian area is important because fish rely on calm shallow water with aquatic plants like cattails, sedges and reeds to spawn and shelter their young. Excess soil and sediment in the water can destroy fish spawning grounds and nutrients in the soil can result in algal blooms. You want to maintain deep rooted native vegetation that will hold the soil, keeping it from being washed into the water.
Trees and Woodlots
A woodlot is any area with trees, either intentionally planted or natural occurring. It can be any size, ranging from a stand with a few trees to a large natural stand that covers several acres. Woodlots provide many ecological benefits such as erosion protection, habitat for plants and animals and air quality improvement.
Many weeds and invasive plants in Canada were originally introduced as crops or ornamental garden plants. On acreage properties, weeds can reduce the productivity of land, increase the risk of erosion by outcompeting deeper rooted species and some poisonous plants can harm livestock or pets.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms that make up an ecosystem. A diverse system is more stable and better able to cope with changing conditions. A stable ecosystem is less likely to degrade as a result of drought, pest damage or human activity. To help maintain and improve wildlife habitat on your property, create travel corridors between wooded areas to increase their usability for wildlife. Isolated habitats have less value than areas that are connected to other habitats or water sources.
A good grazing system avoids grazing when plants are vulnerable, like early spring when new growth is starting, and leaves enough plant cover to protect soil from erosion. It incorporates periods of rest for grazed areas to recover and allows plants to regrow. Don’t overgraze pastures. Pasture grass less than 8 to 10 cm tall (3 to 4 inches) is a good sign that the field is overgrazed. Bare ground has no protection against erosion which stresses plant roots and allows weeds to invade.
There are many ways in which your daily activities impact the air quality both in your community and inside your home. To reduce your emissions restrict your use of wood burning appliances and replace older residential wood burning appliances with newer, more efficient technology. Some activities on acreages can include the application of fertilizers, pesticides or manure. Emissions can be reduced or managed by applying beneficial management practices that reduce or eliminate the environmental risk associated with specific activities.