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Retired Cattle Farmers Demonstrate a Hands-On Approach When Restoring their 150-year-old Barrie Area Property

Shanty Bay Couple Announced as Trees Ontario’s Latest Green Leaders

TORONTO, ON, June 25, 2013 – John Dunsmore is dedicated to his land. Wielding pruning shears he surveys his 140-acre property looking for grass patches that could threaten his tree seedlings’ survival. He snips at stray strands as to prevent them from pushing down and suffocating the young trees.

With nearly 60,000 new trees on the Shanty Bay farm he shares with his wife Rosemary, John is dedicated to the seedlings’ survival and growth.

Three years ago, the Dunsmore’s enlisted the help of Trees Ontario and Lands & Forests Consulting to assist with the re-greening of their property, located just east of Barrie, Ont. Since then, they have planted approximately 20,000 trees per year, with next year planned as the last and final planting. Today, the couple has been recognized as Trees Ontario Green Leaders for their enduring stewardship of the Shanty Bay area.

Retired cattle farmers with 50 years of experience under their belt (including multiple awards such as the 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award) and commitment to the local community, the couple says planting trees was the next logical step as they both share a love of the outdoors. The property has been farmed by Rosemary’s family for 150 years.

Like his father and grandfather before him, John takes great pride in farm life. He has planted approximately 2,500 seedlings by hand (to fill gaps) and undertakes the grass cutting between the seedling rows using an industrial-sized lawnmower that is stored in the couple’s 100-year-old barn – a task that takes three days to complete. He has also been a volunteer weather observer for Environment Canada for more than 30 years.

Rosemary pitches in by helping transport trees from the barn for the Land & Forests crew while they are working on the property during planting season.

This commitment is what inspired Eleanor Reed, R.P.F., operations manager for Lands & Forests Consulting, to nominate the Dunsmore’s as Trees Ontario’s latest Green Leaders.

“It’s really exciting to work with people like John and Rosemary. It’s such a large parcel of land that we’re working with here, we can really make a difference,” says Reed, who partners with Trees Ontario, the administrator of the government of Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program (50MTP). “This couple is very hands-on, dedicated, knowledgeable and interested, which is really rewarding making it feel like a true partnership.”

The Dunsmore’s hope to one day pass the property to their daughter, who is a forester currently working in Alberta. However, the couple make it clear that this dream wouldn’t have been achieved without the 50MTP funding.“It wouldn’t have been possible without the 50 Million Tree Program planting incentives because the cost would have been out of reach for us,” explains John.

“In addition to their commendable participation in the 50 Million Tree Program, the Dunsmore’s are a remarkable example of landowners who have gone the extra mile in their restoration efforts,” noted Rob Keen, CEO of Trees Ontario. “The sheer size and scope of their land as well as the hands-on maintenance they’ve undertaken is an inspiration to all landowners. The Dunsmore’s forest will continue to provide benefits including creating wildlife habitat, cleaning waterways, filtering air pollution and mitigating climate change.”

The unique property, which borders the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga Valley watersheds, includes a variety of tree species, mainly red and white pine, white spruce, Norway spruce, white cedar, larch, Tamarack, red oak and black cherry. John has also collected seed from existing white cedar and black walnut trees, which he also grew from seed and hopes to transplant in the future.

According to Reed, tree survival on this site has been impressive. “What’s nice is that when I walk away I don’t have to worry because I know the Dunsmore’s are active landowners and that they will care for the trees until they develop into a healthy forest.”

“The Dunsmore’s are well deserving of the Green Leader award in recognition of their dedication to this legacy farmland,” says David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources. “Planting trees under the 50 Million Tree Program is a great option for landowners who want to leave a legacy for future generations. The naturalization of the property will contribute to the area’s biodiversity, encourage species’ resiliency to climate change, and add to the economic and social fabric of the entire region.”

About 50 Million Tree Program (50MTP)

Trees Ontario is a partner in the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ 50 Million Tree Program, part of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign.The United Nations’ goal is to plant one billion trees worldwide each year. Ontario is committed to help achieve this goal.

The goals of the program are to sequester carbon, enhance and diversify southern Ontario’s landscape, increase the capacity to withstand climate change, and increase wildlife habitat. The 50 Million Tree Program is designed to significantly reduce the costs to landowners of large-scale tree planting and thereby increase the number of trees planted across the province.