The RM of Piney is hosting three forest walks from now to September, with their first one taking place this Saturday, June 8.  

Bob Austman will be leading the walks. He has a background in forestry, owns property in the RM, and loves forest education.  

“I love to spread knowledge about our beautiful Manitoba forest resources.”  

He says that on the upcoming walk, people can expect to learn a lot, including how to properly identify trees.  

“I think part of understanding environment is being able to identify the plants and shrubs and trees in your local area. I will make sure that people come away with a little booklet on how to identify these trees that they can take home.”  

Austman says they will learn how to use an increment borer, which is a device that can help you find out the age of a tree.  

“And we'll learn about the tree rings that every tree has, and that the tree rings tell us a lot about the history of that tree, what kind of life it's experienced,” he says. “And we'll learn about the forest ecology, forest soils, and the nature of the impact of things like forest fires, windstorms, all the things that shape our beautiful forest environment.”  

He says one big theme he will focus on is forest sustainability.  

“So how we can make this resource last generation after generation.”  

Austman warns they will likely be picking up a lot of wood ticks along the way, but it’s a good opportunity to learn about them.  

“One of the things that we definitely learn about is how to tell the difference between a female and male wood tick because they have little markings on them that show us their identity.”  

There will also be plenty of opportunities to ask questions.  

“I really look forward to answering questions and showing people the forest, right from the one square meter in the forest floor, to the vast 430 million hectares that we have in Canada. We have the world's second-largest forest next to Russia, they're number one in terms of forest area.”  

The RM of Piney is hosting these tours to expose more people in the southeast corner of our province to our forest resource.  

He says when you drive down the highway, you see the trees, but there is so much you miss.  

“Most people live in cities now in our country, 85 percent they're urban and about 15 percent rural, so we've kind of lost connection to the forest. And to appreciate the resource, you have to learn a little bit more about it and dig a little deeper.”  

Austman says our forest provides so many tangible things, but also many intangibles, like carbon uptake.  

“In this day and age of climate change, trees are a wonderful way to mop up the carbon in the atmosphere and lock it away. We also get wildlife habitat in the forest that gives us biodiversity, and even watershed protection. The forests are a great filter for precipitation that ends up in the rivers and creeks and lakes. It sort of prevents the soil from slumping into the water and destroying habitat for fish. So we have to keep those forests intact, especially along waterways.”  

The group will gather at the Piney Community Hall, rain or shine.  

They're going to provide bottled water and snacks like granola bars.  

“People will get some fresh air and some exercise and hopefully come away with a bit more knowledge about our wonderful forest resources in Manitoba.”  

Saturday, June 8 from 1-3:30pm is Forestry 101 – Wisdom in the Woods.  

Saturday, August 24 from 1-3:30pm is Becoming Firesmart.

Saturday, September 21 from 1-3:30pm is Welcome to National Forest Week.

All participants will meet at the Piney Community Hall for all three tours. Tours are for ages 12 and up, each tour has 15 spots available.  

To participate, RSVP by calling Carrie at 204-437-2284 or email


With files from Carly Koop