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Frequently Asked Questions about the 50 Million Tree Program

Posted: May 15, 2019

What is the 50 Million Tree Program?

The 50 Million Tree Program (50MTP) is an afforestation and carbon sequestration tree planting program funded by the Ontario Government through the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The program, administered by Forests Ontario, provided financial support to landowners across Ontario reducing tree planting costs and expanding the province’s forest footprint.

Forests Ontario works with over 80 partners across Ontario to implement the 50MTP. These partners include private tree nurseries and planting delivery agents (Conservation Authorities, stewardship groups, First Nations, forestry consultants, municipalities). The effort requires long term planning: we start with seed collection, plant the right tree on the right site and then ensure continuous monitoring.

In April of 2019, we received word that the program was being cancelled by the provincial government.

Why does Ontario need more trees?

Trees reduce flooding, sequester carbon from our air, clean our water, and provide habitat for animals and pollinators. Perhaps even more importantly, trees are our best weapon in the fight against the negative effects of climate change. Research shows us that 40% forest cover is required for an ecosystem to maintain its health. Currently central/southern Ontario has an average of 26% forest cover with some areas as low as 5%.

Why is the 50 Million Tree Program needed if the forestry industry already plants 68 Million trees per year?

This 68 Million tree figure refers to trees that the forest industry plants to regenerate forests that they have harvested. This is a legal requirement and is a cornerstone of Ontario’s demonstrated commitment to sustainable forest management on Crown (public) lands. Since they are replacing trees that were cut down, this does not increase forest cover in the province—a key objective of the 50MTP.

The 50MTP, however, plants trees on private land to increase forest cover and connect existing forests. Southern Ontario, which has the greatest need for additional tree cover/afforestation, is almost entirely private land.

What are the economic benefits of this program?

The 50MTP supports over 300 full-time seasonal jobs in Southern Ontario.

Every $1 spent on the 50MTP generates $3 in GDP impact on the Canadian economy—resulting in a significant and positive return on investment for the provincial government. In addition, the trees planted thus far under the 50MTP have provided $83-million annually in ecosystem services.

Tree planting programs, such as the 50MTP, provides broader economic, societal and environmental benefits that are shared by all Ontarians.

Successful tree planting requires years of planning and preparation. Right now, approximately 7.5 million seedlings are being grown by nurseries to support the 50MTP for the next three years. Without the 50MTP program, nurseries will destroy most of these little trees.

Read more about the values of tree planting in the latest paper The Economic Value of Tree Planting in Southern Ontario.

Has the Government of Ontario historically supported tree planting?

The Government of Ontario has funded private-land tree planting in Southern Ontario for more than a century (since 1908). The most active efforts to fund tree planting have come under Conservative governments.

What is the 50 Million Tree Program’s Mandate and were goals being met?

The province launched 50MTP in 2008 with the original goal of planting 50 million Trees by 2020. In 2012, due to funding and capacity restrictions, the program’s deadline was adjusted to 2025. Forests Ontario and its partners have planted more than 27 million trees with more being planted this spring.

Excerpt from the Ontario Transfer Payment Agreement for the 50 Million Tree Program.