Fairbank Oil Fields is planting a whopping 6,650 native trees in an 8-acre former soybean field. The aim is reduce its carbon footprint and increase biodiversity with more habitat for wildlife.
“Since we are able to obtain revenue from beneath the surface, we think we ought to give something back to nature,” says owner Charlie Fairbank. “We should be returning the surface to a condition which provides habitat for native species of plants, birds and animals which cannot live in corn, bean and wheat fields.”
“Trees flourished on this particular land parcel but they were cleared to make way for the oil boom of the 1850s,” he says. “Eventually, it became farmland and now we’d like to return it to its natural state.”
The St. Clair Conservation Authority designed the 3.3-hectare plan (8.2-acre) to add four species of oak, three species of hickory as well as silver maple, sycamore, black walnut and oak. This additional 8 acres of trees will link our forested land to the east and west, and wildlife benefits from enlarged woodede areas.
A full 40 per cent of the plantings are oak (red oak, bur oak, swamp white oak, and pin oak). Among the hickories will be big shagbark hickory, which is an at-risk species, as well as bitternut hickory and shellbark hickory.
It is a 20-year plan detailed in a 24-page report and aims to create a canopy of trees that are native to Lambton County.
The planting of seedlings has already begun and follows the exact planting design laid out in the 24-page plan from the conservation authority. The planting area is west of Gypsie Flats Line and north of Aberfeldy Road.
With Lambton County only having nine per cent nature cover, any additional woodlands is key to preserving and enhancing wildlife. This is far below the suggested 30 percent required to maintain current biodiversity and healthy sustainable ecosystems as recommended by Environment Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service.