Eco-logs from Haliburton Forest Reserve

The Haliburton Forest and Wildlife reserve is vast, 60,000 acres of gorgeous trees, lakes and trails, nestled under Ontario's prime recreation spot, Algonquin Park. It started as land given out to British immigrants for farming (bad idea), but being covered in huge white pines suitable for masts and rigging for ships was logged out of its good stuff (really bad idea) and then was mismanaged for a century until there was nothing left worth cutting and it was sold in 1962 (for a song, we are told) to German Baron von Fuerstenberg. We are certain the locals were laughing at the time at the silly foreigners but what a transformation. Fabulously managed, there are trails, walks in the treetops, bike paths, a host of recreational activities. They raise wolves. They have a submarine. They prove that a well managed forest can be a recreational attraction for all kinds of people.

What piqued our interest was thier new program of eco-log buildings- Treehugger avoids log construction, thinking it uses too much material for a given end and is not sustainable. In the Haliburton Forest, they cut hemlock trees, ignored by the loggers because of "shake"- the tendency of pieces of wood to fly off as you saw it, reducing yield significantly. They are running a sustainable forest (the entire joint is FSC certified) and had to remove it anyways, so a little waste due to shake is not a big deal. They square it and sell building kits under the brand Eco-log, no longer a contradiction in terms. While their standard plans are less than exciting, they are willing to customize; we hope talented designers will make use of this resource.

Forester Peter Schleifenbaum has promised an interview; watch this space. ::Haliburton Forest Reserve

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