Thursday, 21 December 2023 11:16

Ontario Woodlot Association - rooted in sustainability, growing their community.

No matter how technology-based the world becomes, some things will just always stay the same.

The team at the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA) is reminded of this every day with their dependency on modern technology to connect and support their network of over 2800 members. The need to connect to community is classic—being able to do so virtually opens a world of possibilities.

thumbnail O Foster with sugar mapleThe OWA is an advocacy organization for people who care about protecting forests, ranging from a small wooded lot to a huge forested acreage—including Kemptville Campus! OWA members come with a wide range of goals for their woodlot: some have sawmills, others produce maple syrup, some like to use their own wood for heating, but many are just people who enjoy owning and managing the land. There are also members who enjoy walking through forests and learning about the health of Ontario trees and join the association to participate in the network of OWA conversations and educational conferences, even though they don’t own a forested property.

While the OWA office is located on Kemptville Campus, their team is located all over Ontario and provide both education and conservation updates to their members. Executive Director John Pineau aligns his priorities with what woodlot owners are most concerned about; be it invasive species, or something going on with the trees that the owner hasn’t seen before. Recent events in the works include community tree planting, workshops on how to protect threatened and endangered species, and Indigenous cultural mindfulness training.

Members meet by Zoom video call, in seminars that the OWA arranges online - and the exchange of information about trees and land ownership continues informally throughout the year.

Regularly breaking out of the virtual world, OWA staff sometimes visit woodlot owners to film videos on their land to share with other members. People can see the videos online and learn from those connections. Olyvia Foster, who works as a coordinator for the OWA, says that this online learning sums up what could be the OWA’s motto: “You learn from your neighbour.”

Olyvia has gone out to woodlots in Almonte and near Guelph recently, and created videos that are available to members.

OWA Olyvia pic“People are very connected to the land that they take care of, and it’s fascinating to hear about that connection. A forest is a legacy, and for some, they recognize a passing of the torch — the generational responsibilities for these lands. People are looking for information to build a succession plan, just as any farmer would be looking to inform him or herself if they were thinking ahead and building a plan for future generations,” says Foster.

Once a year, the woodlot owners have an in-person conference, and this year, it’s taking place just north of Barrie, Ontario, in Simcoe County. The theme of the conference is “Restoration and Resilience” which has a particular relevance here, since a lot of the lands in Simcoe County were deforested in the past, and a constructive plan to re-forest the area is beginning to show beautiful results. Key speakers will offer their views of how far the regenerated forests have come along, over time. Another speaker will provide expert advice on foraging— one of the quiet joys of owning a piece of a forest in Ontario.

There are several certifications that can be worked on through the OWA and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF), including a Managed Forest Plan certification and a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. They work diligently to help individuals and organizations like Kemptville Campus become Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. This certification is a confirmation that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability. FSC-certified forests are managed to strict environmental, social, and economic standards. To qualify for a managed forest plan certification, woodlots have to be 9.88 acres or larger, but to join as an OWA member with a “woodlot”, there is no minimum size of property.

If you’re a woodlot owner and haven’t become a member of the OWA yet, have a look online at the helpful information and connection that its Facebook page offers. Or go to the website

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Kemptville Campus is a place to gather, work, grow, play, and belong – for North Grenville and Eastern Ontario more broadly. Our mission as an education and community centre is built on three pillars: education and learning, health and wellness, and economic development, supported by an overarching theme of climate change resiliency. Find us online at

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Marta Zwart
Marketing and Events Coordinator
Kemptville Campus

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