Producer, non-profit partner for restoration project

By |  November 27, 2017

CBM partnered with Forests Ontario, a non-profit group specializing in tree planting, education and awareness, on this restoration project. Photo courtesy of Forests Ontario

The ongoing restoration at a Canadian Building Materials (CBM) site is a classic example of an aggregate producer doing right by its community.

CBM, a provider of aggregate and ready-mixed concrete in the Ontario, Canada, market, recently partnered with Forests Ontario, a non-profit group specializing in tree planting, education and awareness. The two organizations united specifically on a restoration project at the Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit in an endeavor that will likely keep nature lovers in the area happy for years to come.

The Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit, located northeast of Toronto, is part of the Durham regional municipality in Ontario. The pit, which has been active since 1958, continues to produce materials today. It is located on an esker deposit that has produced sand and stone products for high-profile projects such as the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre.

The care with which CBM treats the Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit does not end once the company has completed a section. Mike LeBreton, the land and resource manager at CBM, is responsible for ensuring the company complies with a site’s final rehabilitation plans. But CBM also has a team of professionals that is dedicated and knowledgeable when it comes to rehabilitating licensed pits and quarries.

“CBM does not wait until the end of the life of a site to complete rehab,” LeBreton says. “We progressively do a small part each year wherever we can on our sites.”

The details

At CBM’s Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit are Mike LeBreton, land and resources manager for CBM Aggregates; Jennifer Bernard, lands coordinator for CBM’s Aggregates Division; and Kerry McLaven, Forests Ontario’s Forest Program manager. Photo courtesy of CNW Group/Forests Ontario

As LeBreton and his team explored restoration approaches at the Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit, a colleague put LeBreton in contact with Forests Ontario.

Now, CBM is involved in the Durham Region 5 Million Tree Program (5MTP), a program offered to landowners that covers 80 percent of the costs of planting trees. The goal of 5MTP is to get 5 million trees planted across Durham’s municipalities by 2023 as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.

To be eligible for the program, landowners must sign a 15-year management agreement to not cut down trees. Also, the area being considered could not have been a wood lot since 1990, and the area to be restored must be at least 2.5 acres.

Considering the benefits, LeBreton was eager for CBM to be a part of the program.

As part of CBM’s initiative, Forests Ontario was invited to the site for a tour. The Forests Ontario team toured the site with LeBreton a year before any planting took place.

“We got to see what the site looked like in the spring, which is the best time to do planting,” says Kerry McLaven, a forest program manager at Forests Ontario whose job includes overseeing forests and afforestation projects like the one with CBM.

While on the tour, McLaven and her team identified areas that had been rehabilitated yet sat fallow for 15 years. This kind of land is ideal for planting, McLaven says, as it has a higher nutrient level and is prepared for trees. This land also had some grass cover, but the cover wasn’t too heavy.

After visiting the site, McLaven and her team sent over a planting plan and presented it to CBM. The area Forests Ontario planted was just under 25 acres. Planting of the trees began on April 28 of this year and concluded on May 4.

“CBM is going above and beyond in terms of fulfilling their obligations,” McLaven says.

When planted, trees were 1 to 1.5 ft. tall. Four species were selected, including white pine, white cedar, tamarack and poplar.

“All of these are natives species to the area,” McLaven says.

The species selected can handle more challenging areas, including mine sites that typically have fewer nutrients, McLaven adds. She expects a good survival rate for the trees and for them to pass the stress stage by their fifth year.

The Sunderland Sand & Gravel Pit has been active since 1958. Photo courtesy of CNW Group/Forests Ontario

Forests Ontario will return to the area to monitor the trees at the end of the first, second and fifth years and update CBM on the progress.

“The ultimate goal is to recreate the forest,” McLaven says. “We hope other species will come from species that are there, which will lead to growth. A nice diverse forest will work itself out naturally.”

LeBreton also believes the trees blend with the regional landscape.

“We hope this will provide habitat for local species, add to the biodiversity of the area, and encourage more animals and wildlife to move in,” LeBreton says.

LeBreton notes that a number of animals already call the pit home. It helps that no hunting is allowed on the property, he says.

While both CBM and Forests Ontario are skilled at this type of restoration work, it takes years to learn about trees because they grow slowly.

“We’re documenting everything we’re doing, and we hope this will help us inform others across the province,” McLaven says.

Like McLaven, LeBreton expects to learn from this project and utilize the knowledge gained on other rehabilitation ventures for CBM. This venture was the first time both organizations – CBM and Forrest Ontario – worked together. Both parties expressed a desire to partner in the future, though.

“They’ve been a great partner for us,” LeBreton says. “We hope it is the beginning of a long-term relationship, and we are able to accomplish this on more sites.”


Larry Bernstein is a freelancer writer based in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.


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