A one of a kind calcium restoration field study has begun in Muskoka’s sugar bushes

Muskoka Post Staff

MUSKOKA - Friends of the Muskoka Watershed have begun a calcium restoration field study at local sugar bushes.

In August, Friends of the Muskoka Watershed met with Dr. Shaun Watmough, professor and director of the Trent School of the Environment and a leading expert on calcium decline, and four of his graduate students, to officially start the collection of field data for the applied research component of the ASHMuskoka three year project.

Twenty, 10 x 10 meter plots were laid out in three local Ontario Maple Syrup Producers (OMSPA) sugar bushes marking 60 plots in total. In each plot, leaf litter, saplings, foliage from the canopy of leaves high up on the trees, and soil samples were collected.

“We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Watmough to determine the effect of residential wood ash on forest health,” said Dr. Shakira Azan, project lead.

“With the findings from this research, we hope to identify a wood ash dosage that would make a positive difference in forests with low calcium concentrations.”

In addition to these samples, last March, Dr. Azan visited all three sugar bushes and took samples of maple sap from tagged trees.

Friends of the Muskoka Watershed, in collaboration with Trent University and volunteers, plan to distribute the wood ash collected to date in all 60 plots next month.

ASHMuskoka is a project which is developing the framework for Canada’s first residential wood ash recycling program to engage the community to combat the calcium decline problem in Muskoka’s forests and lakes.

For more information on the project or about Friends of the Muskoka Watershed email friends@fotmw.org.

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