Make a difference one tree at a time

Make a difference one tree at a time

Hello ForestNation community!  Lately I have been focusing on stories of initiative around the world, and I have one more tale today!

This one is about a very inspiring individual who believes that trees are the future, and decided to make a random act of kindness around his community.  His name is Elwyn Behnke, a logger that is very eco aware.  He planted Butternut trees around North Bay, Ontario at public places such as the Ministry of Natural Resources office.  He also gave away 100 saplings for other people to plant around the area!  So why did this start?

Elwyn’s career as a logger has some very cool mottos.  His dad started his company (Behnke Logging and Trucking LTD.) in 1949, and Elwyn took over in 1980.  Elwyn is hoping to pass this tradition to his son.  His logging company cuts renewably, “only cutting down what they plant.”  This is logging like farming, providing a greener planet so they will always have lumber!  Elwyn also wants the Butternut trees to thrive because he used them in carpentry when he was in high-school, and would like to see it commonly used today.

One of the cool parts of giving out the Butternut trees to many people is the fact that it will influence and educate the community about the protection and preservation of the Butternut tree.  Each person will nurture and grow these trees as their own and will increase the Butternut tree`s survival rate.

The Butternut tree has been rapidly decreasing in population in North America, due to a disease called Butternut Canker.  The Canker fungus is believed to have come from outside of Canada.  This disease is an uncontrollable nuisance throughout the range of the Butternut, which slowly cuts off nutrients to first the tree’s crown, then down to the tree’s roots.  The tree becomes exposed to the disease through insect wounds, buds, and openings in the bark, providing multiple entries for the fungus.  The tree’s nuts may become infected, which would cause the sapling to die early.   One of the ways the Canker is being combated are hybrids such as Butternut combined with English walnut.

How do you spot the Canker?  Look for black sooty patches, or in the spring look for black ooze coming out of holes in the bark.  They will have their crown die first, and then start having the die off go lower and lower.  The canker’s themselves are diamond, sunken in, brown or black patches.

The Butternut tree (Also known as White Walnut) is valued by carpenters for their softness, colour and varying texture, and is very useful.  It is now listed as a Species at Risk in Ontario, and an Endangered species in Canada.  Animals such as squirrels eat the Butternut, as the nut is an important food source.  First Nations also use the nut for cooking, hair dressing, leather making and polishing tools. The Butternut tree has a 75 year life span.  The Canker disease was noticed in Canada in the 1990’s.

Elwyn has taken a huge step just by simply planting some trees.  This inspires me and shows that anyone can make a huge difference, whether the outcome is saving a species or educating youth.

So get out there, and be inspired!


photo credit: Jami Dwyer via photopin cc

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