We can craft more resilient land-use policies

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Residents who cherished the lofty tree-lined stretches along Sixth Line are disheartened as the disturbing trend of field repatriation continues in this formerly serene part of Bristol.

Residents who cherished the lofty tree-lined stretches along Sixth Line are disheartened as the disturbing trend of field repatriation continues in this formerly serene part of Bristol.
As a result, we’re losing wildlife habitat and natural weather controls like fencerows, flood plains and cooling tree canopies. Current by-laws provide no incentive for preservation. No natural buffer zone is required along municipal roads when converting bush into open fields (related to business activity).
The bush clearing continues south to a creek deemed sensitive and designated a green zone. A questionable 30 metre buffer is to be left intact. If for turf, corn or
soybean production, which involves repeated application of synthetic inputs and salt-based fertilizers, I’m concerned the buffer may not be adequate in
protecting wetlands and downstream contamination.
Although small, the types of wooded wetlands that dot this area are among the best examples of “ecosystem services”: pollinator habitat, flood control and carbon sinks. Research shows where agricultural fields abut riparian zones with large,
established trees, the result is healthier soil, greater water retention, more resilient crops and higher yields. Isn’t this desirable?
Landowners would do themselves proud to embrace wetlands and tree canopies. The changes to our enchanting stretch of road is a harsh reminder that Bristol’s natural heritage is at risk if we don’t craft more resilient land-use policies and provide practical incentives to employ profitable, environmentally-sound practices.
Consumer incentives like tax exemptions at the cash register for products and services with smaller ecological footprints than alternatives encourage businesses to adapt ‘triple bottom line’ accounting models. Aligned with the removal of
various fuel exemptions, we can address greenhouse gas emissions, in turn utilizing natural features of the land.
A "polluter pays" system sounds frightening, but if a price was placed on those ecosystem services that are eliminated through tree clearing and tiling fields, the real value of preservation would be obvious. Adequate support for transitioning all agriculture towards a regenerative, organic model makes perfect sense.
We can be innovative leaders. Applying solutions that compliment other initiatives results in a more resilient and prosperous community for future generations.
As for our beloved tree canopy along Sixth Line, it’s too late. If nothing else, please consider these points before investing in property containing wetland, if it isn’t really what you desire.

C. Watson
BRISTOL