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Ontario Landowners Becoming Green Leaders in Helping Ontario Reach 50 Million Tree Goal

November 20, 2008 – Ontario landowners are showing strong support for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ 50 Million Tree Program. With planting having started just eight months ago, the program has already had close to 1.3 million trees planted on 122 sites across Ontario. In addition, a recently concluded series of tree planting workshops with landowners across the province has yielded numerous tree planting commitments for 2009 and beyond.

“I’m very pleased to see so many Ontario landowners embrace the Ontario government’s 50 Million Tree Program so quickly and am very encouraged by the number of early commitments for 2009,” said Donna Cansfield, Minister of Natural Resources. “It is further proof of the commitment Ontarians have to their environment and the desire they have to fight climate change.”

The 50 Million Tree Program, announced in August 2007 by Premier McGuinty, is the single largest commitment to the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign, and will plant 50 million new trees in Ontario by 2025. Eligible landowners who participate in the 50 Million Tree Program receive significant financial incentives, including property tax reductions. Trees Ontario is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources to deliver this program.

The goal of the 50 Million Tree Program is to sequester carbon, enhance and diversify southern Ontario’s landscape, increase adaptive capacity to withstand climate change, moderate local climate by providing shade, moderating temperature extremes and reducing the effects of storms, increase wildlife habitat, increase soil and water conservation, and provide local economic opportunities.

Recently, 13 workshops were held across the province by Trees Ontario and its partners, to promote the 50 Million Tree Program and provide information from forestry experts on subsidy programs available related to good forestry practices and how to plant trees and reduce costs.

“The workshops were an excellent way for our planting partners to network with landowners about their programs and eligibility requirements,” said Michael Scott, President and CEO, Trees Ontario. “The response from landowners to these sessions has been very positive both towards the 50 Million Tree Program and the support and incentives for participating.”

Because support for the 50 Million Tree Program is spreading, Trees Ontario has selected some Ontario landowners to become the program’s first “Green Leaders” who will play an ambassador role to raise awareness of the program and encourage more participation from other landowners across the province.

Len King, Brantford, Ontario – “Planting trees on our property has been a 30-year labour of love. We have planted so many trees I have lost track. Our goal was to re-establish the Carolinian Forest and create a more pleasant living area for us and the wildlife. Thirty years ago we moved into a farm of rolling fields with few trees. We are now surrounded with over 20 species of native trees and an amazing variety of birds. Over the years, we have planted over 50,000 trees with the help of Grand River Conservation Authority and we plan to plant between five and 10 more acres (4,000 to 8,000 trees) in 2010. The Ministry of Natural Resources’ 50 Million Tree Program makes planting 800 trees per acre and about 10 acres of trees in one planting affordable and much easier. The local forestry authority analyzes the soil, advises on the tree species that is best for the terrain, they can help with the planting and they continue to monitor the progress of the seedlings. I look forward to watching our newest seedlings grow.”

Andrew and Katherine Graham, Lansdowne, Ontario – “We live in a UNESCO-designated area called the Frontenac Arch biosphere that runs from Westport to Merrickville to the St. Lawrence River. This area Is unique for its geology and vegetation. As we are no longer raising cattle, and stewardship of the land is important to us, the Ministry of Natural Resources’ 50 Million Tree Program timing was just right. Last year, the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority through Trees Ontario helped us plant about 10,000 trees. We now have a mix of black walnut (which we are very excited about), pine and spruce trees. Next year, we will plant about the same amount of trees, as well as replace those trees that did not survive the winter. We have a great relationship with Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority, they know our land and the planting goes very smoothly. We are already looking forward to the spring!”

Trees Ontario is working with local tree planting agencies in Ontario, including regional conservation authorities and local Ontario Stewardship councils to help implement this new program. Landowners participating in the 50 Million Tree Program receive hands-on professional help and advice from these planting agencies who work directly with them to determine site eligibility, allocate funding and coordinate planting.