Ontario Government Cancels Program to Plant 50 Million Trees

CC BY 2.0. Forest and water/ Lloyd Alter

Who needs trees when you can have beer in corner stores?

TreeHugger has not wasted a lot of pixels on Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario, Canada. Sure, he cancelled the carbon cap and trade system that the previous government had created, probably at a cost of C$3 billion that would have been received from big corporations, and instead is now giving them C$400 million to promise to not pollute. Sure, he cancelled the program that tested cars for pollution. Sure, he is screwing up Toronto with fantasy subway systems. But TreeHugger has an international readership and these are local issues.

But local or provincial actions can have international implications; just look at the Alberta oil sands and its carbon footprint. Then there is Doug's latest idea; he has just cancelled a program that was going to plant 50 million trees across Ontario. The carbon dioxide that they would have absorbed affects people everywhere.

This is not long after Ford's favourite author, Margaret Atwood, joined dozens of other environmentalists in calling for massive reforestation and afforestation as the most effective method of carbon capture and storage. They wrote in their open letter:

By defending, restoring and re-establishing forests, peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes, natural seabeds and other crucial ecosystems, large amounts of carbon can be removed from the air and stored. At the same time, the protection and restoration of these ecosystems can help minimise a sixth great extinction, while enhancing local people’s resilience against climate disaster.

But Doug would rather save the C$4.7 million that the program cost, to help pay for his corner store beer plan.

Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario, tells CTV that since 2008 more than 27 million trees have been planted.

It was started as a carbon sequestration program, Keen said, but planting that many trees also helps clean the air and water, protect shorelines and reduce erosion. About 40 per cent forest cover is needed to ensure forest sustainability, Keen said, and the average right now in southern Ontario is 26 per cent, with some areas as low as five per cent.

Then money went to fund conservation groups, stewardship groups and First Nations, employing people in the north where there are not a lot of jobs.

The CEO of one of the main nurseries that grows seedlings for the program said the cancellation of the 50 Million Trees Program will lead to more erosion in flood zones, as well as poorer air and water quality, warmer lakes and streams without forest cover to shade them, and less wildlife habitat.
A place to Grow

Province of Ontario/ new licence plates/Public Domain

Doug Ford just changed the licence plates to have a new motto, A place to grow. I guess he wasn't talking about trees.