Great Canadian Parks / Prince Edward Island

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The Parks / Prince Edward Island / Prince Edward Island National Park



True Acadian mixed forest should consist of the following tree species: beech, red oak, sugar maple, yellow birch, white pine, hemlock and red spruce. However from the time of the first European settlers in 1728 until 1911, 52% of the island was cleared for agriculture, timber export and shipbuilding. This large-scale land clearing removed the best quality trees leaving genetically inferior seed sources for future regeneration. Some examples of the remnant Acadian forest survive on the Balsam Hollow Trail and in other areas of the park. Coastal forests are subject to strong winds and salt spray, but a unique association between the small forests and tertiary dunes can be seen in transition areas. As the dunes become established, marram grass, the only plant that can initially colonize the dunes under these harsh conditions, sends down metre-long roots which anchor the sand against the force of wind and waves, and eventually allows other species to take root. Fragrant bay berry, wild rose, goldenrod, hudsonia, and beech pea appear in shrubby patches which in turn form a shield for white spruce. The mature spruce forests farther inland completely cover the older dunes, the first row of trees providing a protective wall against searing salt wind and enabling succeeding spruce to grow. At Blooming Point, one of these early coniferous forests has been buried by migrating sand dunes. Access to and use of about 20% of the parkĘs land is controlled to protect fragile plant growth; the Cavendish sandspit and Brackley dune systems' marram grass and bayberry colonies, and the Covehead Bridge and Dalvay habitats for the vulnerable wildflower, the St. Lawrence aster are prime examples of this conservation program.



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