Gordon Island’s Oak Forest Restoration
MALLORYTOWN – Parks Canada is a world leader in the conservation and restoration of ecosystems. As part of Thousand Island
National Park’s multi-year plan to restore the oak forest, Parks Canada plans to proceed with a low intensity prescribed surface fire on five hectares of Gordon Island on Wednesday May 9.
Oak forests are in decline in many areas of North America, including on Gordon Island in Thousand Islands National Park. Oak forests support a high diversity of insect species such as butterflies and moths. Songbirds such as red-headed woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, and red-eyed vireos depend on the unique canopy of oak trees and the life they support. Oak acorns and leaves contribute a large amount of nutrients and food to the forest floor and the aquatic environment.
Oak trees are adapted to periodic low intensity ground fires. These conditions allow them to out-compete other tree species and non-native plants. While controlling wildfire is often necessary to protect property and people, the suppression of wildfires prevents the environmental processes that foster oak.
On Gordon Island, the lack of natural fires has resulted in a landscape with dense layers of blackberry and raspberry, and non-native species such as garlic mustard and honeysuckle, which have caused a decline in red oak.
In 2015, Parks Canada conducted a small prescribed fire on the same site. Positive results are often achieved through a multiple fire process, when fires are held a few years apart.
Parks Canada is a leader with more than 30 years of experience in using fire to naturally restore and maintain the ecological integrity of national parks and historic sites. The safety of the public, our crews, park infrastructure, and neighboring lands is always our number one priority.
Thousand Islands National Park has safely and successfully used fire for restoration since the mid-1990s. Through initiatives like the Gordon Island prescribed fire, we are helping to conserve and restore this national park.
For up-to-date information about this planned prescribed fire, please check the park’s website at http://www.parkscanada.gc.ca/thousandislands or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/TINationalPark