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Trees Ontario Launches Provincial Heritage Tree Program

TORONTO, June 25, 2009 – A province-wide program to identify trees across the province with stories was announced today by Trees Ontario. The Heritage Tree program celebrates those trees that have cultural or historical significance to the community or province.

Heritage Trees could be those around which a community has held an annual picnic for the past 100 years, the tree that was planted to commemorate a coronation or other important international event, a tree that was planted to celebrate the life of a soldier or one in an historically designated neighbourhood. The trees should be part of the fabric of that community.

Anyone can nominate a tree by registering on the Trees Ontario Heritage Tree web site (www.heritagetrees.on.ca). A nominated tree is evaluated by a Trees Ontario representative based on the following characteristics: its historical and cultural importance to local and broader community, rarity of species, prominence based on size and age, aesthetics and/or artistic peculiarity, and its physical conditions and expected longevity. The evaluation criteria can be found on the Heritage Tree web site.

If the tree meets the above criteria, it will be placed into the Heritage Trees online database. If identified as a Heritage Tree it will also be recognized with a certificate.

A Heritage Tree is usually more than 70 years old. What sets them apart is the important cultural and historical significance they represent. “If these trees could talk, they could provide an intriguing history lesson about the people and land around which they are rooted,” said Michael G. Scott, President and CEO, Trees Ontario. “For the communities and people that enjoy, celebrate and nurture these green giants, they are a source of pride, full of rich memories and stories that they can now share.”

The Ontario Urban Forest Council’s (OUFC) Heritage Tree Toolkit formed the basis for the Trees Ontario Heritage Tree program. “The toolkit was developed in response to the public’s interest in identifying heritage trees in the community,” said Jack Radecki, Executive Director, OUFC. “OUFC is thrilled to be working with Trees Ontario to launch the online provincial program.”

“We are pleased to be working with OUFC to extend their Heritage Tree Toolkit into a province-wide program available to the public,” Scott continued. “We look forward to receiving nominations from across the province and to reading wonderful stories about important trees in our province.”

Trees Ontario has already begun working with other agencies to identify some trees that could be nominated. These are currently under review by Trees Ontario representatives and include trees from Aylmer, Cataraqui, Collingwood, Prince Edward County and Toronto.

Another important aspect of this program is the opportunity to collect seeds from recognized, native Heritage Trees, thus ensuring that the tree’s seeds live on. Trees Ontario plans to work with local communities to locate and collect these seeds. Growing trees from native seeds is important as those species have adapted to the regional environment over thousands of years and are more likely to survive.

For more information on Trees Ontario and the Heritage Tree Program, visit www.heritagetrees.on.ca.

Ontario Urban Forest Council

The Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) is a non-profit group that works to advance the conservation and maintenance of urban forests across Ontario. They provide technical support for groups addressing urban forestry issues and offer various workshops on a wide range of topics. OUFC works in partnership with all sectors, bringing together professionals, academics, industry, government and the general public in a multi- stakeholder approach to urban forest conservation.

For more information contact:
Paul Tyler, GoldFenix Communications, 416-254-0698, pt@goldfenixcom.ca
Victoria Ollers, GoldFenix Communications, 416-822-2288, vo@goldfenixcom.ca

This Nominated Heritage Tree is a 200-250 year old Black Oak located in Toronto, ON

This Nominated Heritage Tree is a 260 year old White Oak located in Toronto, ON