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Trees for Woolwich welcomes Ottawa’s pledge

[File Photo]

Tree planting has become a part of the frontline efforts to combat climate change and to improve the environment. Locally, groups such as Trees for Woolwich have taken up the cause with events to help increase the tree coverage within the area. They do this alongside smaller groups and events, to help further a common goal to fight against climate change.

To help such groups along their paths, the federal government last month announced a plan that would see two billion trees planted over the next 10 years. Ottawa expects to launch the $3.2-billion project in the spring.

The plan is also a key part of the government’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“Canada is fortunate to have vast, healthy, and resilient forest ecosystems that support the well-being of Canadians and help absorb carbon pollution. Nature is part of the solution to climate change. And there is no path to net-zero emissions that does not involve our forests. Increasing the size and resiliency of Canada’s forests through this commitment will enhance Canada’s ability to meet domestic and international climate change commitments, while supporting biodiversity commitments,” said Austin Beaton, spokesperson for Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). “In the recent 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the government announced up to $3.16 billion over 10 years, starting in 2021-22, to deliver on its promise to plant two billion trees.”

The plan comes with a target of a 40 per cent annual increase in the number of trees planted across the country. The plantings in both urban and rural areas over the next 10 years are expected to cover more than 1.1 million hectares – an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island. Because of these trees being planted, projections show that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 12 megatonnes by 2050.

Beaton says tree planting on a scale as large as this will be done through a combination of afforestation – the creation of new forest cover on lands that were previously non-forested – and reforestation, which involves the re-establishment of forests after natural disturbances like wildfires and pests.

In addition to the numerous trees being planted each year, Beaton says many jobs will be created across the sector.

“The 4,300 jobs are expected to be created throughout the tree planting and forest management supply chain. From seed collection and nursery operations, to site planning and preparation operations, finally to tree planting and aftercare.”

Inga Rinne, chair of Trees for Woolwich, says this is an exciting project that stands to benefit her group.

“It is exciting that the federal government has now put some dollars behind the promise that was made some years ago for two billion trees. I think it’s a great initiative and I hope that some of that support will filter down to the grassroots organizations like Trees for Woolwich. So, with some additional support, we could ramp up our planting to even bigger numbers than they are now,” she said.

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis says the program which he deems very Canadian, is designed to benefit groups like Trees for Woolwich.

“The Trees for Woolwich program has been going [on] for years… In the townships, people are very conscious about protecting nature and so the program is already there. That’s [one] of the partners that the federal government is going to get involved [with],” said Louis. “Municipalities like Woolwich are already doing these programs, so to partner with successful programs like the Trees for Woolwich program is a natural step.”

He continued by saying he does not yet know the details – as they are currently being worked out – but he intends to reach out to Rinne to discuss how the group and the program can benefit each other and get that partnership started because “successful programs like that deserve to benefit.”

Planting is expected to begin later this year in urban and peri-urban areas, as well as on private lands. The work will be done in partnership with well established tree planting organizations.

Beaton said reforestation and afforestation will “ramp up over several years as seedlings production increases and planting sites are identified and prepared accordingly.”

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