Susan Loube’s deep connection to the land contributed to her designation as a Trees Ontario Green Leader
York Region, ON, August 09, 2011 – Susan Loube grew up in Wyoming, a small farming community outside Sarnia, where people feel a strong connection to the land and talk about the strong farming-based values that unite them. Sprouted at an early age, Susan has carried this deeply rooted connection to the land throughout her life.
Her connection to the land followed Susan when she first left Wyoming for Queen’s University, Kingston and stayed with her during her post-doctorate studies in England. It was also strong when she married, started her family and chose Toronto’s Beach area for her family’s home.
With the multiple moves and her dedication to her family, Susan felt she was losing sight of that core bond with nature. However, that changed when Susan’s husband was transferred to Dublin, Ireland in 1991. For six years the family experienced life on the “Emerald Isle”. It was then that Susan understood what she wanted and what was going to make her happy.
Back in Toronto, Susan and her husband began discussing buying a dream country property for the family. “We wanted lots of trees and trails to explore and ideally some wetlands to do some of the outdoor activities we enjoy together,” said Susan.
In 2002, they found a 13-acre property in Cedar Valley, just north of Toronto. The property lies on the Oak Ridges Moraine, a protected green space that stretches across 1,900 square kilometres of southern Ontario. It is surrounded by the York Regional Forest, with 5,400 acres of trees that provide a natural habitat for many species of plants, animals, birds and insects.
As excited as Susan was to own and care for the land, she wanted to ensure she understood and respected the environmental significance of the area and the rules governing it so she took a course in woodlot management at the University of Toronto. She expanded the property’s existing garden and planted a variety of fruits and vegetables. She also planted a double row of spruce trees as a windbreak.
A few years later, the neighbouring 33-acre property was for sale. “Many years ago the two properties were joined,” said Susan. “The trails that run over the land cross through both properties but were gated at the property line. It took almost six months for us to discuss and decide to buy the land. In the end, we wanted to re-unite everything the way it used to be. We also thought it would be nice to own everything we could see and not have to worry about what someone else might do to it.”
One of the issues they discussed at length was the financial implications of expanding their property from 13 to 46 acres. “It was great to have 46 acres of land but it was not inexpensive land and it was going to mean greater maintenance, responsibility and increased property taxes,” said Susan. “I read about the Ontario Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP) in my woodlot management course and thought that it might be a solution to ease the financial impact of our decision.”
Susan contacted Chris Gynan from Silv-Econ Ltd., a forest management consulting firm, to assess whether they qualified for the MFTIP. If they did, it would mean a reduction of their property tax to approximately 25 per cent of the municipal tax rate set for residential properties. Chris determined that their original 13-acre property required 0.5 acres more forest to qualify while the new 33-acre property qualified without further plantings.
Chris and Susan identified a meadow on the 13-acre property to plant the additional trees. The area was adjacent to an agricultural field on the 33 acre property that was deemed too small for crops. Susan decided to plant trees on both areas.
Susan looked into the Ontario government’s 50 Million Tree Program. It is one of the many tree planting incentive programs administered through Trees Ontario, a not-for-profit organization that works with local planting partners like Silv-Econ Ltd. to provide eligible landowners with hands-on professional help and advice on tree planting including determining site eligibility, allocating funding and coordinating planting.
This spring, Chris and his team planted 5,200 seedlings on the 5.5 acre area including Norway Spruce, White Pine and White Spruce. “Working with Chris was great. They understood our goals, developed a great plan and took care of the entire planting process. And with all the incentives and subsidies available, it was extremely affordable,” said Susan.
“Planting trees is one of the most effective and efficient ways to combat the effects of climate change. Susan and her family have made a conscious decision to improve their property by adding more trees. I hope their decision inspires others to consider planting trees through the 50 Million Tree Program,” said Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources.
In addition to the tax benefits, Susan knows she is doing something good for the land. In the Oak Ridges Moraine, trees help preserve its core, provide a natural habitat for everything that lives there and protects the watershed by cooling and filtering rain water and reducing the rate of snow melt and soil erosion.
In recognition of her tree planting efforts, Trees Ontario named Susan one of its Green Leaders – a reward for her commitment to trees and forestry stewardship.
Susan is excited about once again feeling connected to the land. She is looking forward to tending to her garden and enjoying the food it provides her family. She also can’t wait to explore the many trails and watching the wildlife. An avid photographer, she likes to take photos of the animals, birds, plants and insects she encounters so she can learn more about them. Said Susan, “I like to know what I am looking at…and with a new 46-acre retirement playground, I have a lot of photos to take and research to do!”
For more information about the 50 Million Tree Program and other tree planting programs as well as local tree planting workshops to help you get started, visit: http://www.forestsontario.ca/ or call at 1.877.646.1193