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23 April, 2010

LONG LIVE OUR PROUD CANADIAN MAPLES!




The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear
The Maple Leaf forever!
God Save our Queen and Heaven Bless
The Maple Leaf forever!

I was raised in the shade of a century-old maple tree in The Town of Dresden and I am still living under the expansive branches of one in Southampton.  On numerous occasions I have written passionately about maples and how they stir up the nostalgist in me. To me, every maple that I see is like an old friend.  Sadly, however, these century (and older) trees are now succumbing to old age, exposure to wind, insects and disease.  Worse yet, they are not being replaced.

One of  the most widely recognized trees in our temperate forests,  this species provides a crucial component in forest ecosystems across Canada and is a part of both the rural and city landscape. As well, it is an important tree in the forest’s carbon balance, sustains the maple syrup industry and produces a range of valuable and wonderful wood products used in our homes.

The maple leaf, of course, is the prominent centrepiece of our Canadian flag and has become a recognized national symbol the world over.

In a week when we supposedly celebrated the 40th annual Earth Day world-wide, I was happy to learn that there is a foundation in Ontario that has taken on "the maple" as a pet project.  "Maple Leaves Forever" believes that the maple tree not only deserves, but also requires, a focused advocacy and mentoring organization.   Very briefly, here are some of the very commendable Maple Leaves Forever goals:

-- To restore and replenish the maple tree as a living emblem of Canada's culture and history by supporting and promoting the planting of native maple trees.

-- To re-introduce maples as a visual feature on the rural and urban landscape by planting in towns, cities, roadsides, along hedgerows, lane ways and property lines in southern Ontario and ultimately, across Canada.

-- To promote and support the development of maple seedlings and saplings which are to be grown from certified Canadian seed sources and which will become known as Maple Leaves Forever (MLF) Maples.

-- To provide the public, emphasizing youth, with accessible information on the cultural and technical aspects of native maples as well as providing them with information on the acquisition and availability of maple seedlings, saplings and trees.

Linda Baumburger nurtures a maple seedling on her family farm.  --Saugeen Times photo.

Linda Baumburger, local National Farmers' Union President,  is a  Saugeen Shores area farm wife who has personally picked up the "save the maple" cause and sings the praises of  the Maple Leaves Forever foundation.  She and her husband, Martin, and their children, own and operate an organic dairy farm immediately south of Port Elgin.

"The land is extremely important to us for the sake of our children,"  Linda said in a recent interview. "We also believe in replenishing things that have been lost. For instance, the maple trees are disappearing. They are being cut down for whatever reason but are not being replaced. Port Elgin used to be known as the town of Maples but that won't last much longer at the rate the maples are being destroyed."

Linda shows how a new maple seedling is protected among a wind row of pines. --Saugeen Times photo.

"Maple Leaves Forever is just  an  amazing organization," she explained with the enthusiasm of someone who has a mission in life. "They have a recommended grower to ensure that the trees/seedlings are authentic native species of maples. Not only that but, once planted and growth is successful, the foundation reimburses half the cost of the seedlings. This is an extremely important initiative and I was so pleased to learn of its existance."

Linda travelled to a nursery in Eden to pick up her first seedlings.  MLF owns a woodlot in the Township of Mulmur in Dufferin County, north of Orangeville.  At present the foundation works with seven nurseries in Southern Ontario and plans to add to the roster in the current year.

"Maples provide a huge range of attributes that are key to the climate ... they provide shade that helps prevent heating of the land, of course they provide oxygen while filtering the air, their massive root systems provide soil retention against erosion.  The maple is truly a magnificent tree," she added.

Farmers initially planted thousands of  maples taken from their woodlots along their hedgerows and on their lane ways. In the 1870s, the Ontario government provided incentives to farmers should they plant roadsides with trees from their woodlots. The majority of trees they planted were maples. This gave rise to an important element in the rural landscape-lines of stately maples alongside roads and separating farmer’s fields. The incentive quickly exhausted government’s monetary allocations, but the legacy of maple trees was left.

Long live the legacy of our proud  Canadian maples with help from organizations like Maple Leaves Forever and people like Linda Baumburger!


For more information or to acquire a Tree Application Form from the MLF foundation, see http://www.mapleleavesforever.com.


2 comments:

Wanda Pellerin said...

I don't usually like bagpipes but your video inspired my patriotic heart. I visualized a fabulous parade with a very upbeat band. It reminded me of why I love this wonderful country we live in and made me wish that I was a majorette again, leading the parade! Thank you Dick.

Dick said...

Thank you Wanda! I understand what you are saying. Bagpipe bands always move me and I thought this tape from the opening of last year's Calgary Stampede would be a perfect intro.