The non-profit conservation group continues its 50 Million Trees project in spite of the pandemic. This year’s goal is to plant 2.8 million seedlings across the province with 65,000 of those new trees spread throughout Prescott-Russell communities.
Last year the provincial government designated tree planting projects as an essential service during the pandemic. The challenge for Forests Ontario is finding enough community partners to accomplish its treeplanting goals this year.
“Unfortunately, tree seedlings are quite perishable,” stated Rob Keen, registered professional forester and chief executive officer of Forests Ontario. “They need to be planted soon after coming from the nursery, so careful timing and fine-tuned logistics are required.”
The 50 Million Trees program aims to improve Ontario’s forest cover and is sponsored through the federal government, major businesses, and individual donations. Forests Ontario works with local landowners and community groups on its annual treeplanting program. This year the non-profit group distributed COVID-19 field work recommendations and guidelines with information on social distancing, use of personal protective gear, and frequent sanitization of hands and equipment during treeplanting operations.
Since Forests Ontario launched the 50 Million Trees project in 2008, more than 31 million seedlings have been planted across the province. More than 550,000 seedlings were planted in the Prescott-Russell region since the program began.
Forests Ontario offers financial and technical aid to landowners who plan to plant 500 or more seedlings on their properties. An over-the-counter program also exists for landowners and community groups who want to take part but cannot do the minimum planting of 500 seedlings.
Treeplanting plans under the program can help with erosion control, provide shade cover for homes, create windbreaks to reduce snow removal work on local roads, provide bird habitats or aerial pathways for some animals, and also help enhance some streamside habitats.
Landowners or community groups who wish to be part of the 2022 treeplanting season can contact Forests Ontario officials at 416-646-1193, extension 222, or go to www.forestsontario.ca/en/program/50-million-tree-program.