Wood ash recycling program could help save Muskoka’s forests and lakes
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Calcium levels in soil and lakes are essential for the growth of all forms of life, but the levels across central Ontario are declining due to decades of acid rain. It could take centuries for this calcium to rebuild on its own.

Implementing a new residential wood ash program to restore calcium levels in Muskoka’s forest soils and lakes could help replenish the area’s dwindling supply of crayfish and maple sap, according to new research co-led by York University.

Researchers discovered that residential wood ash – a common household waste derived from wood-burning fireplaces and wood-fired ovens – was rich with the nutrients needed for restoring growth, including about 30 per cent calcium.

The study, published today in the journal FACETS, shows that adding controlled doses of cold residential wood ash to the watershed of Muskoka’s forests could help solve the calcium decline problem and boost forest growth.

Supplementing watershed soils with calcium-rich wood ash may also improve the region’s crayfish stock, water quality, seedling regeneration and sugar maple tree production of sap, used to make maple syrup.

Learn more at York University.

“A lot of people in Muskoka burn wood for heat and some send it to the landfill so, by collecting and recycling their wood ash, we are diverting waste from landfills."
Shakira Azan
Environmental project lead at Friends of the Muskoka Watershed
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