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A tree for everyone

If the newly-formed Trees for Woolwich has its way, in four years’ time the township will look very different than it does today.

In that time, the group – an offshoot of the Township of Woolwich Environmental Enhancement Committee (TWEEC) – wants to plant 23,000 new trees, or one for each resident.

It may seem like a daunting goal, but the Trees for Woolwich chair is optimistic about their chances of achieving it.

“Our goal is […] to get the community as a whole involved in the joys and benefits of tree planting,” said Inga Rinne. “Yes, it’s one per person in the township, but you think, ‘OK, one tree per person, that can’t be so hard.’”

The planting started last Saturday morning in Bloomingdale, where Trees for Woolwich planted 48 new trees at the recreation centre. Then around 2 p.m. the group gathered at Gore Park in Elmira to unveil their first official tree – fittingly enough, a sugar maple – along with a plaque identifying it as tree 1 of 23,000.

Trees for Woolwich was formed about four months ago when members of TWEEC decided that they needed to pick up their tree-planting efforts, Rinne said.

“We decided that the forest cover in Woolwich was substantially less than ideal in terms of percentage,” she said, citing an Environment Canada statistic that suggests forest cover of 30 per cent was “environmentally ideal.”

The coverage in Woolwich? A paltry 14 per cent, according to the Grand River Conservation Authority, prompting the move to plant more trees in the coming years.

Waterloo Region and the Waterloo Stewardship Network have provided some startup funds for the initial round of planting that will take them through this fall and into next spring, said Rinne, but after that they will have to do some serious fundraising.

Seedlings can go for as little as $1, but larger trees that are 6 or 8-feet tall are much costlier, she added.

The group encourages private landowners to look for space on their property where trees could be planted, and are also working with farmers to emphasize the importance of trees as natural windbreaks to limit erosion and soil runoff to help boost crop yields.

Trees also provide numerous benefits for the rest of the population, from shade in the summer to boosting air quality.

“They are the lungs of our world,” she said.

For now the group is trying to find more planting sites throughout the township, and is working to recruit a roster of volunteers willing to help.

Rinne also plans to unveil a fundraising tree at the township hall later next month that will be used to track their progression towards 23,000 trees.

Anyone interested in volunteering or offering some space on their property for planting, contact Trees for Woolwich at treesforwoolwich@gmail.com or call Ann Roberts (519) 669-6027.

“There has always been the feeling that Canada has lots of trees, an endless amount of forest,” said Rinne of the trend throughout the past century to transform forested lands in farm fields.

“But I think the realization has come that we need a little better balance.”

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