Over 6,000 trees to be planted at Fairbank Oil field

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Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

The Fairbank Oil Fields want to be known for a different type of resource – trees and wildlife.
This is thanks to a new project aimed at increasing nature cover at the historic site. Over the next three years 6,650 trees will be planted over eight acres of field. In 20 years, this will turn into thousands of mature trees.
Fairbank Oil partnered with the St. Clair Regional Conservation Authority and the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on the project. Environment Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service recommend that counties have 30 per cent nature cover, but Lambton currently sits at only about nine per cent.
“Because Lambton is farmland largely, much has been cleared over the last 150 years.
“Farmland is very expensive and so farmers want to use as much space as possible for crops that will give them an income,” says Pat McGee of Fairbank Oil.
McGee says in addition to working with the ministry and conservation authority, Fairbank Oil turned to naturalist Larry Cornelis for advice. “We’ve learned a great deal about forests and wildlife and having enlarged areas,” McGee says of Cornelis’ input. “And he has done a wildlife survey for us because we have lots of rare species here and also lots of rare trees for Lambton.”
The 6,650 trees were selected carefully by the conservation authority. “There’s a real mix and they’re designed to enhance each other. There’s different kinds of oak, different kinds of hickory, and there are some other trees as well,” says McGee. These include oak, sycamore, black walnut and silver maples trees. “We wanted a mix of trees, and they are all native to Ontario and native to Lambton. We’re not bringing in any kind of ornamental trees.”
McGee pointed out that despite the common association with oil, the Fairbank lands already play host to a wide range of nature. “We already have about 100 acres of woodland forest. We have a lot on our major trail, and we have a lot of wildlife here. We have deer, beaver, possums, raccoons,” McGee says.
“Because Black Creek winds through our property that brings a lot of biodiversity because you get crayfish and all the different frogs and fish and insects and reptiles,” says McGee.
The conservation will continue working with Fairbank Oil after all the trees are planted to ensure the 20-year nature cover plan is a success.