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Connecting Students from the Greater Toronto Region with our Forests

Forests Ontario Hosts Inaugural Forestry Connects program in southern Ontario

Stouffville, Ontario, November 8, 2016 – Today, in partnership with the Municipality of York Region, Forests Ontario

FO's Jess Kaknevicius leads students in using our Tree Bee app to identify trees in the York Regional Forest.

FO’s Jess Kaknevicius gives a 101 on using our Tree Bee app to identify trees in the York Regional Forest.

hosted local schools for its first Forestry Connects program in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre provided the ideal location to unite 35 urban students with nature. Students participated in several hands on workshops including orienteering, forest inventory and tree seed collection. Since 2010, Forests Ontario’s Forestry Connects program has provided more than 300 high school students with the opportunity to receive a behind-the-scenes look at the role that forestry plays in communities across the province.

“The forests of York Region are an important backbone of this community. Aside from providing valuable recreational places, the forests are also managed to provide a wide variety of other benefits including wood products, biodiversity and education,” explains Ian Buchanan, Natural Heritage and Forestry Manager, York Region. “The fact that this program is taking place at the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre also gives the students a first-hand look at a building that is inspired by the forest. This building, which was submitted for LEED certification, was built with sustainably sourced wood and uses solar energy – much like a tree.”

Forestry Connects provides an important opportunity for students to learn about the variety of careers in forestry – from forestry professionals, machine operators, and even biologists. Everyone within Ontario’s world leading forestry sector plays an important role in ensuring that our natural resources are managed in a sustainably by balancing social, environmental, and economic objectives. More importantly, the Forestry Connects program provides students with the opportunity to network with those working in these careers to ask about their education and career paths, and leave inspired. It also challenges students to learn beyond the classroom and ask questions they may not ask in a traditional learning environment.

“This is our the first time bringing the Forestry Connects program to the GTA, where due to the urban setting people tend to be disconnected from the social and economic importance  of Ontario’s forestry sector,” said Rob Keen, RFP, Forests Ontario CEO. “Connecting students to the forestry sector allows them to see that under sustainable forestry practices, tree removal ensures that wildlife habitat, forest structure, and biodiversity are maintained. Covering more than 70 million hectares, Ontario’s forests play an important role in building healthy communities across the province, including York Region.”

Students were also introduced to the new TD Tree Bee website (treebee.ca) that provides a great way for kids to get excited about our forests, and the perfect opportunity for families, schools and members of the community to spend time learning together outdoors. The TD Tree Bee website can also be used to build local competitions that challenge students to learn more about their local tree species. On November 23, in partnership with the Regional Municipality of York, local grade 4-6 classes will have the opportunity to demonstrate their tree ID skills at the York Region Tree Bee competition.

Forests Ontario would like to extend our thanks to the members of the forestry community in York Region including the Regional Municipality of York, Silv-econ Ltd., and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. This program is also proudly supported by Ontario Wood.

We would also like to thank the schools that participated in the program including Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School from Markham, Humberview Secondary School from Bolton, and William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute from North York.

For more information, photos, or to arrange an interview please contact:

Jeannette Holder

Communications Manager

Forests Ontario

416.646.1193 ext. 257

About Forests Ontario

Forests Ontario is the voice for our forests. Working to promote a future of healthy forests sustaining healthy people, Forests Ontario is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas, as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario’s forests through restoration, education and awareness. Visit www.forestsontario.ca or follow us @Forests_Ontario.

About Ontario Wood

Similar to Foodland Ontario, Ontario Wood is a way to connect with a local wood producer. Whether your choice is made based on quality and price, whether it’s about supporting local producers and local communities, whether it’s about what’s best for the environment, or whether it’s simply because you love the natural beauty of wood products – Ontario Wood can meet your needs. Visit www.ontario.ca/wood.