50 Million Tree Program Alive and Kicking
Posted: November 6, 2019
Forests Ontario announced the relaunch of its 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP). The 50 MTP is a large-scale tree planting program for land and property owners with the goal of increasing forest cover in Ontario.
“The 50 MTP is back and more accessible than ever,” said Rob Keen, CEO of non-profit charity, Forests Ontario. “The new, expanded criteria opens the program to more land and property owners, meaning more trees in the ground. It’s a win-win for landowners, who save on tree planting costs, and for the environment.”
The new program is now open to more property owners. Under the old program, applicants needed to dedicate at least one hectare to tree planting to qualify for the program, which provides financial and technical assistance. Now, anyone with the space to plant at least 500 trees can qualify apply.
“It’s a grand thing,” said Ron Klages, who estimates he has planted close to half a million trees on the 900-acre farm he owns with his wife Georgina about 25 km south of Owen Sound. “This program has certainly helped. A lot of people are taking advantage of it.” Grey County is the No. 1 destination for trees under the 50 MTP, with over four million trees planted since 2008.
Forests offer many benefits: forests attract wildlife, absorb rainwater, prevent erosion and sequester carbon. Trees also have big benefits for farmers: for example, bee keepers can keep their hives happy by planting Basswood and Willow trees. Farmers can protect their crops from wind by planting conifers in fence rows. Trees also absorb odours from farms and treelines along farm roads and driveways can help reduce drifting snow. Trees around pastures provide welcome shade and shelter from the wind for cattle, horses, sheep or goats. Some farmers are also investing in hybrid Poplar for biofuel, Black Walnut for future hardwood, and Hazelnuts as a cash crop.
Beginning in 2008, Forests Ontario has facilitated the planting of more than 29 million trees through the 50 MTP; this achievement has been made possible by the hard work of over 80 dedicated partners, such as conservation authorities, stewardship groups and First Nations. More than 5,000 landowners have planted trees, yielding 15,000 hectares of new forest and sequestering over 126,000 tonnes of carbon. The 50 MTP also supports approximately 300 full-time seasonal rural forestry jobs.
The forests planted to date under the 50 MTP now generate over $83-million in annual ecosystem services such as pollination, recreation, aesthetics and water supply regulation.
Applications for the program are now up on the Forests Ontario website.