Saving The Butternut Tree Population

photo credit Steve Sauder UTRCA

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and the Forest Gene Conservation Authority are trying to save the local butternut tree population. 

INNERKIP - The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and the Forest Gene Conservation Authority are trying to save the local butternut tree population. 

UTRCA Forester John Enright explains why the butternut trees are considered endagered in our region. 

"Blight which is a canker,  a fungal disease and it is decimating the native local population of buttenut." 

Enright says they are guided by the National Recovery Strategy for Butternut and continually fundraise to implement its recovery recommendations.

"Archiving is a lengthy process that begins with finding butternut trees that are tolerating the canker. Once we find one of those special trees, we have a licensed arborist collect twigs from it in March. The twigs are grafted onto black walnut trees in April, tended in a nursery for two years, then planted and managed in an orchard, which is fenced to keep deer out. This week, we will be adding 44 grafted butternut trees to the orchard."

The UTRCA Seed Orchard currently has 161 grafted butternut, which represent 42 parent trees from across the tree’s Ontario range. The first grafted trees were planted out in 2015. The UTRCA hopes to collect seed from these trees in October. Any seed collected will be grown into seedlings, planted in reforestation projects in the Upper Thames River watershed, and carefully monitored to learn if canker tolerance has been passed on from the parents.

Today they planted another 44 grafted butternut trees at the Butternut Seed Orchard on Oxford Road 4 near Innerkip. 

The FGCA has worked on butternut recovery since 1992, with the goals of:

- encouraging landowners to conserve and manage their butternut, 
- archiving healthier native butternuts that may be genetically tolerant to the canker, and
- fundraising and managing resources that support long term progress.

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