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New forest coming to city's south end

The Rotary Club of Guelph will be breaking ground on the new project next Earth Day that will see 6,000 tree and other pollinator-friendly plants and species along Clair Road West
20220503 Rotary Club of Guelph AD
Rotary Club of Guelph members Carolyn Weatherson, left, and David Latrielle, pose by a tree sapling.

Next year the Rotary Club of Guelph will be breaking ground on its next environmental project, this one a new forest in the city's south end.

This wooded area will sit on a 9.3-acre property along Clair Road West. On Earth Day 2023, the Rotary Club will begin planting 6,000 native trees and other pollinator-friendly species, with the goal of completing the new forest in three years. 

Carolyn Weatherson and David Latrielle are members of the Rotary Club of Guelph. Both mention the new forest follows the completion of the Rotary Forest, a 100-acre property along Concession Road, which the completion of the forest by 2020 was part of the Rotary Club's plan to celebrate its centennial anniversary.

“It’s bittersweet, because it was supposed to be done in 2020 which was the centennial year of our club and I happened to be the president that year and on that committee, but COVID happened," said Weatherson, noting that larger project is expected to wrap up this month. 

Weatherson said the idea to create the new forest was inspired by Martin Neumann, co-founder of Trees for Guelph. 

“Our club has a history of tree planting, we planted in the arboretum up by the university and in a number of different areas prior to tree planting here," said Weatherson.

“After exploring for a year what our next environmental project could be, we looked beyond planting trees to other concepts, but nothing was a perfect fit for us. So we once again went to Martin Neumann, and he suggested talking to Dave Beaton from the city, and it wasn't long before we had a new forest."

With the Rotary Forest, Latrielle explains there were a lot of logistics the Rotary Club of Guelph had to consider to bring volunteers to help with planting, due to its location. 

“In the new location, there’s probably a lot of people locally that if you make them aware of this project, won’t have to drive there,” said Latrielle.

“There’s going to be an educational component as well,” Weatherson said of the new project. “Maybe they don’t plant as many trees that day, but they get to enjoy some education with their families.”

Weatherson adds it is a big deal for their organization to be granted this land inside city limits.

“It’s very hard to find tree-planting opportunities, but an entire forest, inside city limits of any city in North America," said Weatherson, "that land is so valuable, and the fact that the city was willing to do that, and they understand the importance of it, shows how progressive our city is and how forward-thinking our forestry department is."

“Certainly, Martin shared a vision with us about where the next project starts, that Clair Road area, it could extend all the along the Hanlon park,” said Latrielle, “there’s that hydro corridor area there that could be planted, and conceivably, you start there and you can move all the way up to along Woodlawn (Woodlawn Road.)”

Latrielle said the new forest will also provide many benefits for the city, including increasing the tree canopy and protecting the watershed. Weatherson cites it will also help sequester carbon, clean our water and provide shelter for animals. 

“For the humans who go there, it's so important to be in nature for our own well being, mentally and physically," said Weatherson. 

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Ariel Deutschmann

About the Author: Ariel Deutschmann

Ariel Deutschmann is a feature writer and reporter who covers community events, businesses, social initiatives, human interest stories and more involving Guelph and Wellington County
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