While walking along the trails of Domaine Joly-De Lotbinière, you will discover on the upper terrace of Pointe Platon an extraordinary ancient forest that has been preserved since the beginning of the colony. The state forest surprises by its rich biodiversity as well as by its majestic hundred-year-old trees. Throughout the walk, you will be amazed to the size of these giants that are nearly 250 years old. Moreover, you will discover a rich and diversified native fauna and flora. Depending on the time of your visit, ferns, club mosses, trilliums, liverworts, skunk cabbages and the delicate Carolina spring beauty will delight you, as will the presence of birds and small animals that live in the forest.
The State Forest, an Ancient Forest of Private Tenure
The state forest has been classified as "ancient forest" because of its many century-old trees. It received this designation because it has not been subjected to any major disturbance by man or nature, hence the presence of old trees that have long since reached maturity. In Quebec, there are only 128 ancient forests, because colonization and urbanization have considerably affected most of the forests. For this reason, it is very important to raise public awareness about the need to preserve these rare and fragile ecosystems.
Here is a brief description of the two trails that you will be able to follow on your next visit to the forest:
Le Chêne (The Oak Tree) (1 km)
You will find different habitats on this trail. Among others, you will be able to observe a two-hundred-year-old red-oak grove where American beeches are distinguished by their smooth pale grey bark. Children will love touching beech bark on either side of the trail, imagining themselves walking between the legs of a herd of elephants. Also, as you walk over the footbridge overlooking a wetland, you will see black ash to balsam fir grove. Small black-capped chickadees, curious and attracted by your presence, will accompany you as you fly from one tree to another.
L'Érable (The Maple Tree) (1.4 km)
This second trail is in a loop-shaped. Throughout your walk, the sounds of the forest will accompany you and you will discover, among other things, a large sugar maple grove. Long exploited by the seigneurs and now gone, the sugar shack was a springtime meeting place for all members of the Lotbinière family. Several swampy habitats - which you will cross via footbridges and bridges - will lead you to discover a balsam fir-yellow birch and western white cedar grove as well as a pretty little brook. Afterwards, you will join the first trail and return to Pointe Platon Manor.
The Importance of Ancient Forests
Numerous researchers believe that ancient forests are very important for a wide range of plant and animal species, and are essential for the maintenance of biological diversity. These ecosystems contain large dead trees that are still standing, where many species of birds and insects live, feed or reproduce. The large decaying trunks that litter the soil of ancient forests are home to several species of insects and small amphibians. Finally, lichens and fungi proliferate there. The disappearance of ancient forests would inevitably have disastrous consequences for many of these species.