Forests Ontario Taking Applications for Flagship Tree Planting Program
Posted: December 4, 2019
The 50 MTP is a large-scale tree planting program for land and property owners with the goal of increasing forest cover in Ontario. It provides professional technical assistance as well as financial assistance to plant trees. Forests Ontario announced that they are now taking applications for the program.
“The 50 MTP is better 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.”
Under the new criteria, anyone with room to plant at least 500 trees can apply. The revised program creates more opportunities for urban and suburban tree planting.
Overall, Forests Ontario has planted more than 29 million trees through the 50 MTP. This has been achieved in partnership with over 80 dedicated partners, such as conservation authorities, stewardship groups and First Nations. More than 5,000 landowners have planted trees, yielding 16,000 hectares of new forest and sequestering over 22,000 tonnes of carbon annually. The 50 MTP also supports 300 full-time, seasonal forest jobs.
We bet some of these trees have been planted in your very own community! Scroll down to learn more about tree planting efforts in your region.
“I have always been an outdoorsman,” said Trent Massey, who worked with Forests Ontario to plant 5,500 trees on seven acres of his 30-acre farm. “I hunt and I fish. If there’s no forest, there are no animals.”
Massey lost the use of his legs 20 years ago in a motorcycle accident. His wife, Chantal, typically helps him into his hydrostatic tractor, which he operates with his arms. Massey tilled the ground prior to the tree-planting. Crews planted White Spruce, Jack Pine, White Cedar, Norway Spruce and poplar trees on the farm, in fields, on fencerows and along his driveway. Massey mows between the rows of saplings twice a year, to keep down competition from grass and weeds.
“In my condition, maybe I can be an inspiration to other people,” Massey said. The success rate for his trees is about 85 per cent, he said.
“I think it’s important for the government to keep the tree planting program going,” said Massey. “People who are buying farms and not farming – they can be planting trees.”
Massey, who also grows hay on his farm to feed his horses, said the trees have attracted many more birds to his farm. He has seen more eastern wood pewees, sharp-tailed grouse and pheasants along with chicadees, kinglets and sparrows.
“They are there constantly because they actually have trees to land in and to nest in,” he said.
Forests Ontario has planted over 150,000 trees since 2008 in Algoma District.
“The continuation of the tree-planting program is great news for farmers,” said Samantha Roney, who with her husband owns Bennington Hills Farms near Orangeville, Ontario.
Samantha Roney said that the 4,000 trees planted on the farm under the 50 MTP, such as spruce planted as windbreaks, have curbed soil erosion and boosted yield of corn and other crops on their farm.
“We are seeing the difference in the soil and in the crops nearby,” she said. “The prevailing winds are from the west. With no trees, you see the first few rows of corn are stunted. With the windbreak of trees, the corn grows evenly.” She said the 4,000 trees have also helped to create a microclimate and to keep moisture in the ground on their farm. Other landowners in the region can boost crop yield, beautify their property and increase habitat for wildlife under the program, she said.
Forests Ontario’s planting partners have put more than 1.2 million trees in the ground in Dufferin County between 2008 and 2018. The 1,243,322 trees planted in Dufferin County through the 50MTP were spread out over approximately 168 sites.
A tree planting program that found federal support after efforts from a Windsor man is up and running, with plans to plant millions of trees in 2020.
In Essex County, Forests Ontario facilitated the planting of 451,000 trees in 2008-2018.
The Government of Ontario cut funding for the 50 MTP in April of 2019. A Windsor man, Sambath Kumaar, started a petition and garnered 100,000 signatures in support of Forests Ontario’s tree planting efforts. In June, the Government of Canada committed up to $15M over four years to keep the program running. Funding also comes from corporate sponsors and donors.
“It is really great to know the 50 MTP is back on track,” Kumaar said. “It feels good to know more trees will find their rightful place soon enough.”
A couple in Grey County, whose farm was among the first to receive trees under Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP), is celebrating the Government of Canada’s decision to support the popular tree-planting initiative.
“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.”
Klages recalled his early efforts before the tree-planting program began. On top of paying market value for each tree, he had his 10-year-old daughter drive the tractor to cut a furrow. He walked behind and planted the trees.
“When I first started, the costs were almost prohibitive,” Klages said. “Now you can hire someone to come in, and they keep an eye on the trees, they check them and spray them. It’s getting the job done.”
In 2008, the year the 50 MTP launched, Klages said Forests Ontario’s partners planted 125,000 trees on his farm, including White Cedar, Red and White Pine, Tamarack, European Larch, White Spruce and some Red and White Oak.
“To see those trees today, some of them are five metres tall,” he said. “They really have taken off.”
With help from his grandchildren, Klages gathers thousands of acorns and black walnuts from trees around Chesley each fall. He plants them among the growing young evergreens in his forests, he said. He sees his tree planting work as a legacy for his grandchildren.
“So many people pay lip service to planting trees, but when it comes to actually planting them, they don’t do it,” Klages said. “If we are going to have clean air and a place for our children and grandchildren, we’ve gotta do something.”
Forests Ontario has facilitated the planting of 500,000 trees in Grey County through the 50 MTP.
“I knew adding trees to the land would be beneficial for my bees,” said Tomosky. “Trees provide pollen and nectar for pollinators. They’re also a home for all kinds of birds and animals. People don’t realize how important trees are.”
Tomosky signed up for the 50 MTP in 2013, adding 15,000 trees to her property.
“In March, when the bees are looking for food, willow trees provide the necessary pollen and nectar,” she said. “If willow trees did not grow, then the bees would starve in March for lack of food.”
Having a windbreak and increasing forest cover were also important to her. She planted Black Cherry, Tamarack and Eastern White Cedar, to help accomplish her diverse objectives, along with oak and maple trees.
Forests Ontario has facilitated the planting of 700,000 trees in Halton Region through the 50 MTP.
The Coons decided to return that section of the farm to nature. Planting partners who work with Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP) put more than 9,000 trees on the 95-acre farm. The Coons also got help to develop wetlands and tall grass prairies.
“The planting was just spectacular,” Coon said.
In 2017, the Coons bought an adjacent 150-acre farm and converted 50 acres to wetlands and grasslands. They planted another 14,000 trees. The trees went in using a pod-planting technique that surrounds slower-growing trees such as Oak, Hickory and White Pine with faster-growing trees such as Aspen, Pin Cherry and Sassafras. Glenn Coon said some areas of marginal farmland are much better off as forests or wetlands.
“When you see bean sprouts washing down into this really pretty little creek, you know it’s just not right,” Coon said. Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) connected the Coons with Forests Ontario. He has a deep-set belief in the importance of sustainability.
“When you are providing clean air and clean water to your community, you are giving back to the people that mean so much to you,” he said. “The more we can filter the air with trees and filter the water with wetlands, the more we will save down the road.” The Coons’ reforested area grows alongside the region’s famed Bacchus Woods, increasing forest connectivity for wildlife in the area.
Forests Ontario’s partners have planted more than 400,000 trees in the Long Point Region since 2008.
Paul Gagnon, Lands and Waters Supervisor in the Long Point Region Conservation Authority, said his group plants 80,000 to 100,000 trees annually. One opportunity for reforestation lies with two to five-acre former tobacco fields surrounded by bush, that are too small to farm with modern equipment.
“We have lots of areas in our watershed that are marginal,” Gagnon said. “And the new criteria opens the door for a lot more areas that weren’t eligible under the past program.”
Bud and Jill Guertin have been reforesting their farm since 1960, with many trees coming from Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP). The 50 MTP is a key tool for reforesting Ontario, Guertin said. “The program has gotten a lot of trees planted. It’s not very expensive and it’s done properly.”
“Don’t write that we planted all the trees ourselves,” added Bud Guertin, a graduate of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto. “We planted 20,000 trees and the other 70,000 were planted by other people.”
In some areas, the planters first put in a row of poplar trees, then left three rows empty, and then planted more poplars. The next year the planters put in White Pine trees. The pines grew well in the shade of the poplar trees.
Many hills on his farm were eroding, and a gully of sand was spreading in one area, he said. “We planted trees in all the really poor areas.”
More than 800,000 trees have been planted in Northumberland County through the 50 MTP.
A city councillor in Russell, who has planted thousands of trees on his own land under the 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP), welcomed the news that Forests Ontario will continue the program with federal support.
“We have a retired landfill of a number of hectares that we want to restore, and we are thrilled that we can plant trees under Forests Ontario’s 50 MTP,” said André Brisson, City Councillor for Embrum with the Township of Russell. Brisson previously planted 2,000 trees under the program, including Black Walnut and Sugar Maple trees, and said he had an 85 per cent success rate.
Forests Ontario has planted 500,000 trees in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell through the 50 MTP.
Rainy River District
“The 50 Million Tree Program [50 MTP] has allowed me to bring back the forest on my land,” said Wanda Mitchell. Over three years, from 2015 to 2017, Mitchell planted more than 16,000 trees on her 100-acre property. She planted mainly native species such as Red Pine, White Spruce, Jack Pine and Black Spruce trees.
Mitchell said the trees have transformed her property. In addition to the young forests, other trees on her land are growing so well that she is now looking for someone to thin her Silver Maple and oak trees, she said. The deer, meanwhile, are a constant menace to the younger trees.
“White Pine is candy for them,” Mitchell said. “Red Pine is the main meal.” Mitchell said she responds by painting Bobbex deer repellant on the tops of the young trees. “When I was a kid, if we saw a white-tailed deer we were so excited. Now they come right up to my door.”
Forests Ontario facilitated the planting of over 35,000 trees in Rainy River District.
Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry County
Ray and Marlene Beauregard had more than 7,000 trees professionally planted on their 63-acre farm in Stormont Township though the program.
“The Tamarack are flourishing,” Ray Beauregard said, noting that this species of tree grows very well in the wet areas of the couple’s farm.
All told, Forests Ontario has planted more than 900,000 trees in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry through the 50 MTP.
Planting trees on a farm can also offer tax benefits for property owners. The Beauregards recently obtained a Managed Forest Plan. This meant their property taxes declined by 75 per cent for 40 acres of their property.
An outdoor education teacher in King City, who has helped to plant thousands of trees on his school’s property, says he welcomes the continuation of Forests Ontario’s popular 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP).
Andrew MacMillan, who works at King City’s Country Day School, facilitated the planting of more than 8,000 trees on the school’s property in 2018.
“Forests Ontario made it very easy and affordable for us to reforest our school property,” MacMillan said. “The program allowed us to involve the students, too. The grade nine students were the most actively involved in the planting, with some assistance from the grade eleven environmental science students. The grade three students helped with watering the trees.”
At Country Day School, students planted Red Pine, Red Oak, Black Walnut, White Pine, White Spruce and Eastern White Cedar trees, taking care to choose spots where the trees would thrive. Red Pine prefers drier, sandy conditions, whereas White Spruce prefers more moisture and Cedar likes a damp environment. Since the plantings, students and teachers have seen more wildlife on the property, such as deer, coyote, rabbit, wild turkey, and waterfowl.
Forests Ontario has facilitated the planting of more than 600,00 trees in York Region.
Those wishing to apply for the 50 MTP can visit www.forestsontario.ca/50MTP.