Haliburton Forest in Central Ontario has a long history of logging, in fact at one point in the late 50s, the land was so over harvested that it was considered to be almost worthless.
"It was heavily, heavily logged in the late 1800s as a softwood phase we went through, so a lot of the good quality White Pines were cut out of the area," said Peter Cundel, Haliburton Forest Tourism Manager, "and then through the early nineteen hundreds there was the hardwood phase that came through as well. So they basically decimated the property in terms of valued timber here to about the nineteen fifties."
But that was in the distant past. Today, the trees of the forest are revered, and are an important tool in the philosophy of education that the center has adopted
"One of our big mandates is to tell our story," said Cameron Ferguson, operations coordinator at the Forest. "You know, it can always be looked upon as a model forest, for others to kind of learn from...why keep a secret?"
The Haliburton Forest educates visitors about trees in the most dramatic way possible, through a tree canopy tour. Originally the idea sprouted from an inquiry from the University of Toronto, they were interested in doing research from the tree tops. Ferguson says that Haliburton Forest's owner Peter Schleifenbaum had another vision.
"Peter being an entrepreneurial forester, you know, obviously he saw the light here and said, "Wow! Why don't we take people up there and educate them a little bit about the forest As well as we can obviously charge them some money that helps to pay for the sustainable development,'" Ferguson recalled.
The morning-long adventure begins with a canoe trip to the trail head.
Once arrived at the trail, it's a short hike to the foot of the walkway. That first step onto the suspended trail ushers you into a whole new world.
"Once they get out over the first few bridges the adrenaline seems to settle down, and then the kind of awe inspiring stunning views come into play and they really get to take in their surroundings," Ferguson said. "We go from ground level up to about sixty five feet, and the length of it, it's a series of twenty six suspended bridges and it's over six hundred meters in length."
Ferguson explains that even the almost half-mile walkway was constructed in a eco friendly manner.
"The six hundred meters of tree boardway all comes from Hemlock which is sustainably harvested within our forest," Ferguson said.
One trip to the canopy is enough to change the way visitors perceive trees for the rest of their lives.
"Certainly, getting up and close to some of the tree species, you know the big White Pines there, certainly give people a kind of a revived appreciation of forests and trees," he said.
It's a trip like no other, and even for the guides, it never gets old.
"It certainly is a great experience," Ferguson said. "And even after 800 tours or so, there's never any two the same."
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