Author: Michael Scott, President and CEO, Trees Ontario
Feb. 6, 2009 – For over 25 years, Dr. Bill Ford and his company Educational Connections (www.schoolsearch.ca) have helped parents choose the school that best fits their children’s learning style. Ford’s passion is to find the perfect school to nurture a child’s natural curiosity and help them become a productive, well-rounded and successful adult.
Ford invested the same kind of care and research when he and his family decided to return part of their land to its original forested state. The Ford’s 50-acre family farm is located on the Niagara Escarpment in the Beaver Valley area of Ontario’s Grey Highlands.
Last spring, Ford and his wife, Louise, worked with Anne Lennox-Brindle, the Forestry and Wildlife Coordinator of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority, to find the best sites for planting trees. They walked the land, discussed the Fords’ goals for tree planting and determined which species would thrive in each location.
“I’m very fortunate to be living my passion both in my work and on our farm,” says Ford. “I discovered there is a wonderful parallel between helping families select the right school for their child so they can develop into successful adults, and finding the right trees for the terrain and to nurture and witness their growth into the forests of the future.”
The Fords wanted to restore the mixed deciduous and coniferous forest and provide shade for their creek and wetlands to enhance the water quality for fish and other wildlife, leaving a legacy for future generations. In the end they planted more than 1,800 trees on their farm.
“Our family is thrilled with the outcome,” says Ford. “Over the next couple of years, we also intend to naturalize colonies of indigenous wildflowers in and around the new forest and beside the creek.”
He says that throughout the process, the opportunities and incentives provided to landowners by the Ministry of Natural Resources’ 50 Million Tree Program run by Trees Ontario have been a big help.
The 50 Million Tree Program is the single largest commitment to the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign, with a goal of planting 50 million new trees in Ontario by 2020. To encourage eligible landowners to plant trees, the program offers reduced planting costs and help from local conservation authorities with choosing trees and planting them. Depending on the site, landowners may also be able to apply for property tax reductions.
Ford believes it’s a no-brainer for any landowner. “The support you get from the program makes it so simple, and the financial incentives through various tax breaks, combined with the positive impact you are making to the environment, makes it a win-win for everyone involved,” he says.
Trees Ontario will be hosting a series of free landowner workshops around the province in February and March 2009 to promote the 50 Million Tree Program. Forestry experts will provide information on available subsidy programs, and will discuss good forestry practices and how to plant trees and reduce costs.
Landowners looking for more information on the workshops and how they can benefit from the 50 Million Tree Program are encouraged to visit www.treesontario.on.ca/programs or call 1-877-646-1193.