Forests Ontario

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Letter to the Editor: Where will we plant those two billion trees to fight climate change?

Posted: November 18, 2019

On November 12th, The Guardian published an article titled ‘Where will we plant those two billion trees to fight climate change‘, referring to Prime Minister Trudeau’s promise to plant two billion trees over the next decade. Our CEO Rob Keen responded with an op-ed, which you can find below.

Dear Editor

I read with great interest Where will we plant those two billion trees to fight climate change in The Guardian’s November 12th issue. First, I must compliment your writer, Aaron Beswick, for a sophisticated and poignant article about a surprisingly complex topic. Second, yes, tree planting has real benefits from a climate change perspective and yes, there are places to plant. Most importantly, as noted by Beswick, planting must be done correctly to have a true positive impact.

From my experience as a Registered Professional Forester and CEO of Forest Recovery Canada and Forests Ontario, which have planted more than 33 million trees across several Canadian provinces since 2008, the task starts with identifying the right sites and using seed from known sources to grow the required seedlings (as well as strategically planning to ensure the availability of enough healthy seedlings).

Last June, Minister McKenna committed $15 million over the next four years to our 50 Million Tree Program. We are extremely grateful to the Government of Canada for this support, which allows us to continue building tree planting capacity across Ontario, increasing forest canopy cover as a result.

It’s reported that there are many places new trees could be planted without infringing upon the health of older forests – which Beswick correctly identified as important resources for biodiversity and climate mitigation – or agricultural lands.  Rather, the areas best suited for trees and forests would be marginal lands.

The Trudeau government has set out a significant challenge, it can be done, and must be done correctly.  Come on, Canada, let’s get planting!

Warm regards,

Rob Keen

RPF and CEO of Forests Ontario & Forest Recovery Canada