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Trees Ontario’s Heritage Tree Program records and celebrates legacy tree landmarks

Trees Ontario’s Heritage Tree Program records and celebrates legacy tree landmarks

TORONTO, ON, July 26, 2013 – Fascinating history is embedded in many of our city’s trees. One such example is the 150-year-old silver maple on Laing Street that recently fell victim to last week’s severe thunderstorm. Said to have inspired the 1867 “Maple Leaf Forever” poem-turned-song by Alexander Muir, the tree was a community landmark, having received historical designation and considered by many the most famous tree in Canada.

As a relatively young nation, Canada relies on its heritage trees to preserve and share the landscape’s history. For this reason, trees that have existed for more than a century – like the Maple Leaf Forever, which inspired our nation’s song – are biological monuments and living relics. For instance, famed explorer Samuel de Champlain likely came across the “parent” or “legacy” trees of the current oaks that reside in Ottawa’s Champlain Park (which bears his name) during his excursions in the early 1600s.

To recognize and document the significance of such trees, a Heritage Tree Program was developed by Trees Ontario with assistance from the Ontario Urban Forest Council. This program is dedicated to identifying and recording the location of noteworthy trees in the province. Heritage trees are identified and assessed based on their age, size, appearance, and most importantly their cultural and historical significance.

Members of the public are encouraged to nominate a Heritage Tree for recognition, whether it is located on their own property, a friend or family member’s property or in a public space. The stories and photos of recognized trees are then featured on the Trees Ontario website.

As part of the program, tree seeds may also be collected, germinated and planted to provide legacy trees for future generations to enjoy.

“In the face of global warming and climate change, the Heritage Tree Program is more relevant than ever,” notes Rob Keen, CEO of Trees Ontario. “By nominating a tree, people can ensure the history, stories and culture associated with that particular landmark will live on forever in their community.”