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112   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

Eliminating the land capable of agricultural development, which is estimated at 15,000,000 acres, there are left 105,000,000 acres of land whose only value to the province (outside of the grazing value of 20,000,000 acres) is its adaptability to the production of timber. The province is truly a forest country, and, with agricultural land occupying less than 10 per cent of its area, it is evident that its future is inseparably bound up with the crop of timber which can be grown on this 105,000,000 acres. The climatic and soil conditions are, for the most part, excellent, and it is believed that the annual cut, which already amounts to nearly 2,000,000,000 board feet and makes the lumber industry the leading one of the province, can be increased by four times without overtaxing the productivity of the forest growth. But, to accomplish this, measures must be adopted to ensure prompt regeneration of the forest, to afford the most favourable conditions for rapid growth, and to protect the growing crop from destruction by fire. The chief obstacle to the attainment of all these conditions is the presence, in the most valuable and productive forest areas, of a heavy layer of undecomposed vegetable material, made up of leaves, twigs, branches, fallen trees, grass and weeds, which accumulate in the 100 years or more during which the forest is growing to maturity, as well as the immense amount of slash, consisting of the crowns of cut trees, and of unusable trees, young growth and brush, which is produced in removing the merchantable material. Undoubtedly, as the value of timber increases and as new uses are found for wood, the amount of slash will be lessened to some extent, but no material improvement in conditions will take place for many years.

The removal of the deposit of old vegetable material

Most Important

Forest Problem and the slash resulting g from logging g becomes then the

most important forest problem of the province, and one which demands and will repay the most careful investigation into conditions, methods and results.

Considering the problem broadly in connection with the conditions found in the regions described, it may be said that, on the 5,000,000 acres covered by the yellow pine region, the removal of the slash resulting from logging (the deposit of old vegetable material being absent, or very slight) is not a silvicultural requirement; on the contrary, leaving it on the ground will improve soil conditions. The removal of the slash in this region, therefore, is purely a fire protective measure, and should be carried out only where the excessive risk demands it. In most cases, the only action necessary would be measures to insure rapid decomposition, such as lopping the tops, so that the larger pieces could be in contact with the ground.


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