Promoting the growing of tree nuts in Canada, and their use.
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StarsThe following paper, drafted in 1989, was circulated to the Ontario Forestry Association, Forestry Canada, SONG and its Ottawa Area Chapter, to others, but garnered no responses. I still believe an effort such as this would prove fruitful, though I begrudge the lost time in the worsening situation. I personally, however, would focus entirely on tree nut species/varieties/cultivars to ensure increasing amounts of local food production as well as forest retention. I would give as much weight to urban as to rural forests (more properly 'agroforests', with a high percentage of tree nuts specimens therein) and to wilderness, such as is left.

A Proposal for Assuring the Future Health of Ontario's Forests

Henry (Hank) Jones & Howard Edel

Cobjon Enterprises Inc., Ottawa, Canada

December, 1989
The 'Green Man', an icon for forest renewal, is probably at least 15,000 years old.

The real threat of unprecedented rapid climate change over the biosphere puts forests at risk everywhere, specially in the higher latitudes.

Extensive forest loss raises the dual specters of desertification, as in the African Sub-Sahara, most notably in Ethiopia, and catastrophic flooding, reminiscent of Bangaladesh. Similar consequences for Ontario are possible, and would clearly result in a drastic drop in the quality of life for all Ontarians.

If our native tree species can withstand the change, then our forest would likely remain intact. If, on the other hand, they cannot adapt, then the direst consequences of forest loss are almost certain to occur, as the forest dies back.

In the first case, we need do nothing, for our forest would survive by themselves. In the second case, we would have to begin preparing immediately to hold our forests intact (Wilson 1989, p. 114) throughout the rapid transition to the new climate. In effect, we would have to be able to replace all the trees in the entire forest with non-local species or varieties that would survive during the change and also find the new climate amenable.

As the probability of this rapid climate occurring increases with every new climate study done, we must begin to prepare now to plant a new, successional forest throughout Ontario should it become clear that our local species are failing to survive.

Given the long lead times necessary to develop suitable seed sources, and the likelihood that all candidate species everywhere would suffer local decline, we must immediately start developing, across Ontario, the large scale seed sources for a forest that can survive the change intact, and prepare to deliver the new seed in sufficient quantities at that time in the future when we may have to begin planting the new successional forest for Ontario.

Proposal: It is proposed that the various Ontario governments, provincial, regional and municipal, jointly institute immediately a province-wide acclimatized seed growing program for the long range future, against the contingency that Ontario's native forests may not survive the impending rapid climate change.

Under this proposal, the scientifically-based program would aim to provide in the future sufficient numbers and genetic variety of suitable new tree species seed to enable progressive planting of the successional forests, woods and woodlots throughout the province, in the case that the native forests suffer inexorable decline.

The program would also provide for planting the seed it produced. The planting activity would be synchronized with observed native forest decline so as to preserve, and even increase the extent of, the province's natural forest cover, while simultaneously preserving its overall health.

In effect, the program would implement a contingency plan that would enable a human-planted successional forest to be brought into existence across the province, thus protecting our soil, agricultural, wildlife and economic systems so as to assure continuing quality of life as Ontarians' lifestyles change to bring about the sustainable development process that can assure a good life for our children and our children's children, indefinitely for all time.

The program would be similar in concept to the program implementing the "Woodlots Improvement Act", involving the private landowner and the government jointly in the long term production of those species of seed pre-adapted to the impending new climate. The proposed name for this program is the "Private Lands Acclimatized Seed Management" (PLASM) program .

Under the PLASM program, agreements with private land owners would be struck that would establish on their land scientifically-monitored "acclimatized seed banks" in the form of tree plantations of varying sizes, species composition, soil profiles and microclimates.

It is suggested that thousands of individual seed banks would be planted across the province. Due to uncertainty about the specific parameters of the new climate, every scientifically reasonable combinations of species and habitat would be represented. Each seed bank, or plantation, would be of sufficient acreage to be able produce enough seed after 10 to 30 years to enable the replanting of the total area of such similar habitat as itself throughout the province, should such replanting in fact become necessary in the future.

Under the PLASM program, the land owner as steward of the seed bank would contract obligations for its continued well being by signing joint management agreements with the government, similar in intent to the WIA agreements now widespread throughout Ontario.

In return, the landowner's property would be protected by law from any activities that could jeopardize the ultimate success of his or her seed bank, such as expropriation of the land, or its conversion to other use, or adjacent deleterious activities such a dump sites, etc, that could jeopardize the success of the seed bank.

Furthermore, the land owner would retain full rights to all timber and fruit crops as would normally become available from time to time under good woodlot management practices.

However, as the seed becomes required for forest planting, the owner would be obliged to sell same to the government program at fair market value.


This paper has been prepared for the Ottawa Area Chapter of Society of Ontario Nut Growers (SONG). The Chapter was formed in 1979, as the first chapter of SONG. Its geographic area of interest takes in eastern Ontario and western Quebec regions. Its membership is comprised of local people interested in growing nut and bean bearing trees and shrubs in the region.

We recognize that under today's climate most nut tree species and varieties find this climate too cold to prosper. In hopes of finding those that could, we prepared a list of some 77 species and varieties that might grow locally, to experiment with.

We were fortunate that, starting in 1979, we have been able to work jointly with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) to develop a nut grove to demonstrate the growth possibilities of some of the species on our list. Now, we are successfully growing some 30 different kinds of nut and bean bearing trees and shrubs in what has been dubbed the Baxter Nut Grove, a demonstration plantation growing on a five acre site in the Baxter Conservation Area near Kemptville. The list of candidate species and varieties slated for experimentation at Baxter is appended.

We have become aware of acid rain, climate change, ozone depletion and the northward migration of diseases and insects collectively threatening Ontario's forest and trees, and that forest cover could be lost if native species die back en masse, as now appears to be happening (Quebec's maples are a case in point we believe).

Equally, we recognize that humans have wrought such widespread change in the biosphere that there is (for all intents and purposes) nothing left for us to conserve, so the more difficult tasks of global restoration and regeneration must now be attempted. We feel strongly that trees and forests are the most important element of the biosphere that must be restored and regenerated. Realizing also that the impending change to our climate, specifically a change to a much warmer climate, could threaten the continuing existence of today's native species, we are concerned about what trees could take their place so as to prevent the complete loss of our Ontario forests. If we lose our forest, we could face the kinds of desertification and severe flooding that could destroy our entire way of life.

We also note that the kinds of trees we are trying to grow normally range into those geographic areas (eg, Pennsylvania) which have the climates predicted for this region in 50 to 100 years (that is to say, well within the lifetime of trees we are now planting today, which have life expectancies from 150 to 500 years). We suspect that these more southerly nut trees we are working with could become the viable forest species for Ontario in the future, and may replace the native forests of today. If so, we might be able to retain our extensive forest while gaining the not insubstantial economic benefits of nut trees (most valuable wood as well as edible fruit).

We are worried that the climate change could happen too rapidly for the more southerly species to colonize northward to become the successional forest naturally (Wilson 1989, p. 114). Human help may be necessary.

While we all strive to stop the forces driving undesirable change, we must also prepare to take remedial action should we not be completely successful in preventing the change. We believe that Ontario should undertake research in earnest to determine which tree species could become the forest of tomorrow, begin growing these species widely but under a coordinated scientifically controlled program, and prepare to plant the acclimatized seed as native forest decline, so that the forest itself remains intact across the province, and that we seek not only to survive the coming change, but even to profit from it.

It is with these thoughts in mind that we put forward for widespread consideration and discussion our proposal for a new "Private Lands Acclimatized Seed Management" (PLASM) program for Ontario to help prepare us for the future.

Candidate Species for the PLASM Program:
This list was prepared in 1979 to help the designers of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority's (RVCA) "Baxter Nut Grove" plan the layout of the grove. The botanical definition of "nut" was not rigorously followed. Instead, a wide variety of both nut and bean bearing trees were included, selected for their potential to grow in this climate combined with overall value as food, fiber and forest producers. Under the PLASM program, this list should be under continual review.
Botanical Name						 Common Name

Aesculus glabra  							Ohio Buckeye
         glabra var. monticola  					Oklahoma Buckeye
         hippocastanum							Horsechestnut
         hippocastanum 'Baumanii'  					Baumann Horsechestnut
         hybrida  							Hybrid Horsechestnut
         octandra  							Sweet Buckeye
         octandra f. vestita  						Carolina Yellow buckeye
         parviflora  							Bottlebrush Buckeye
         sylvatica  							Painted Buckeye
         x A. carnea (hippocastanum x pavia)  				Red Horsechestnut

Asimina triloba  							Pawpaw

Carpinus caroliniana							American Hornbeam

Carya cordiformis							Bitternut Hickory
      glabra								Pignut Hickory
      illinoensis							Pecan
      laciniosa								Kingnut(Shellbark)Hickory
      ovata								Shagbark Hickory
      tomentosa (alba)  						Mockernut Hickory

Castanea dentata  							American Chestnut
        mollisima							Chinese Chestnut

Catalpa bignonioides  							Southern Catalpa
        bungei  							China Catalpa
        hybrida  							Hybrid Catalpa
        ovata  								Chinese Catalpa
        speciosa							Western Catalpa

Celtis glabrata  							Caucasian Hackberry
       laevigata (mississippiensis)  					Mississippi Sugarberry
       occidentalis							Common Hackberry
       reticulata  							Netleaf Hackberry
       sinensis  							Chinese Hackberry
       spinosa  							Spiny Hackberry
       tournefortii  							Oriental Hackberry

Corylus americanus							American Hazel
        avellana							European Hazel
        colurna								Turkish Hazel
        cornuta  							Beaked Hazel
        heterophylla  							Siberian Hazel
        sieboldiana var. mandschurica  					Manchurian Hazel

Fagus grandifolia  							American Beech
      sylvatica  							European Beech

Gingko biloba  								Maidenhair Tree

Gleditsia aquatica  							Water Locust
          capsica  							Caspian Locust
          ferox  							Ferox Locust
          japonica  							Japan Locust
          macracantha  							Macracanth Locust
          sinensis  							Chinese Locust
          triacanthos							Honey Locust

Gymnocladus dioica							Kentucky Coffee Tree

Juglans ailantifolia							Japanese Walnut (Heartnut)
        cathayensis  							Chinese Walnut
        intermedia var. vilmoriniana  					Vilmorins Walnut
        cinerea								Butternut
        mandschurica  							Manchurian Walnut
        microcarpa  							Little (Texas) Walnut
        nigra								Black Walnut
        regia  								Persian Walnut

Maackia amurensis  							Amur Maackia

Macleura pomifera  							Osage Orange

Ostrya virginiana							Eastern Hop Hornbeam

Pinus cembra var. siberica  						Siberian Stone Pine
      koraiensis							Korean Nut Pine
      peuce  								Balkan Pine

Quercus alba  								White Oak
        alba X bebbiana  						Bebbs Oak
        bicolor  							Swamp White Oak
        macrocarpa							Bur Oak
        muehlenburghii  						Chinkapin Oak
        palustris							Pin Oak
        prinus  							Chestnut Oak
        robur  								English Oak
        rubra								Red Oak
        rubra 'Aurea'  							Golden Oak
              'Maxima'  						Unknown

Robinia ambigua Decaisneana  						Decaisne Locust
        fertilis 'Monument'  						Monument Locust
        pseudoacacia							Black Locust

Wilson, E. O. 1989. "Threats to Biodiversity". Scientific American, Vol. 261, No. 3. pp. 108-116.

Canada Nutculture Association, Ottawa, Canada: "Progress through Research & Development"