From our first-hand experience with the large-scale ice storm that struck in 1998, to our more recent involvement in helping partners respond to the arrival of the Asian long-horned beetle in the City of Toronto, we realize that the threats to forest health are very real and the consequences potentially devastating for communities.
The EOMF has spearheaded the Regional Forest Health Network (RFHN), a network of some 20 organizations and agencies spanning eastern Ontario, western Quebec and northern New York State – rallying partners in a coordinated and collaborative response to forest threats of various kinds.
In support of the RFHN, the EOMF hosts meetings, acts as a central repository for the distribution of relevant materials to partners, helps to coordinate training for forest practitioners, and plays a key role in coordinating the development and delivery of communications and outreach products and activities directed at woodlot owners as well as urban and rural residents. Working closely with scientists and experts from both Federal and provincial governments in delivering forest health-related messages to forest industry, rural landowners and urban dwellers also forms an important function of the RFHN.
A particular focus for the Regional Forest Health Network has been the slowing of the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB) across eastern Ontario. The RFHN is playing a critical role in bringing partners together to coalesce around one set of consistent messages about EAB. Past experience in other jurisdictions has shown that, in the absence of a facilitating or coordinating vehicle such as the RFHN, organizations and agencies have struggled to provide consistent messaging to landowners and the public – an inevitable recipe for failure. The RFHN, with EOMF playing a facilitative role, is providing a vital coordinating function – one that is ensuring strategic responses to threats to forest health, and also building capacity within local communities to respond effectively to such threats.