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History of Forest

Prior to European settlement, the Northumberland hills were covered in mixed-hardwood forests with towering beech, maple, hickory and white pines as well as tallgrass prairie and oak savannah. Once discovered, however, the region's White Pine were harvested and sent to Europe for use as ship masts and settlers harvested the trees for building and fuel as well as cleared land for agriculture. The region's sandy soils did not support agriculture for long as nutrients were quickly depleted. Erosion and the flooding became a growing concern. Appeals from farmers, and townships throughout southern Ontario, particularly on the Oak Ridges Moraine prompted large scale reforestation efforts to stop the erosion and retain precipitation that was causing flooding.  

In 1910, representatives of the United Counties of Northumberland and Durham petitioned the Provincial Government for funds for financial assistance to reforest approximately 15, 000 acres of degraded lands in these counties. The result was the 1921 Reforestation Act which enabled the Province to enter into agreements for reforestation, development and management of such lands owned by counties. Over 40 years approximately four million trees were planted.

The County of Northumberland purchased lands for reforestation and entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), then known as the Department of Lands & Forests, whereby the MNR managed the lands for forestry and the County maintained ownership. In 2000, responsibility for the forest's management reverted back to the County. The County is committed to implementing an environmentally responsible management plan for the Forest that includes silvicultural management, recreational use and ecological restoration and conservation. 

See the Forest Ecology, Forest Trails  and Forest Management sections for more information.

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