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Wanted: One billion more trees for southern Ontario

Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 11:46:07am

For Immediate Release

Wanted: One billion more trees for southern Ontario

Toronto, 22 September 2010 – The Ontario government needs to give more direction as to where, what and how many trees should be planted to restore our woodlands in Southern Ontario, says Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller in his 2009/2010 Annual Report released today.

“There are a number of tree planting programs in Southern Ontario,” says Miller, “but without overarching provincial direction, fewer trees are now planted, plantations are smaller and seedlings are not as available as they were in the past.”

Federal guidelines recommend that all watersheds should have 30 per cent forest cover, but it’s only 17 per cent in Southwestern Ontario, and even less, 5 per cent, in Essex County. And Miller says “the Ministry of Natural Resources does not have the power to identify and protect significant woodlands.”  

The provincial government was long involved in tree planting, but during the 1990’s scaled back its planting programs and closed nurseries. While an average of 20-30 million trees were planted every year prior to the 1980’s, annual plantings have shrunk to an average of only three million trees today.  

The Ministry of Natural Resource does have an ambitious target to plant 50 million trees by 2020, but it is not enough, says Miller. “I recommend the ministry set itself a target of one billion trees; that target is more in line with the enormous challenges we face.”

Trees and woodlands are critically important to our urban areas and ecosystems.  They provide wildlife habitat and welcome green space for people; they store and filter groundwater; they help cool urban areas and streams, and they soak up carbon dioxide.

“The Ministry of Natural Resources needs to develop and lead a southern Ontario woodland strategy,” says Miller. “The strategy should set provincial planting targets, require that appropriate native species be used, set out priorities for key planting areas (such as watersheds with less than 30 per cent forest cover), and provide mitigation and adaptation to climate change.”

Click here to read the chapter “Wanted: One Billion Trees” on the website of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.
Click here to download the full report in .pdf.

Click links below to access media releases on other topics mentioned in the Environmental Commissioner’s 2009/2010 Annual Report – Refining Conservation:

Environmental Commissioner Releases 2009/2010 Annual Report

Aging Landfills: Ontario’s Forgotten Polluters
Sewage Treatment – Not Good Enough
Province’s air quality standards are not airtight
Lack of Mining Oversight Jeopardizes the Far North
Government’s plan will not save caribou
Loophole big enough to truck 160,000 tonnes of sand through
More scrutiny needed for large natural gas plants
Province allows provincially significant wetlands to be drained

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The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is appointed by the Legislative Assembly to be the province's independent environmental watchdog, and report publicly on the government's environmental decision-making.  

Aussi disponible en français.

For more information, contact:  
Hayley Easto
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
416-325-3371 / 416-819-1673

Click for high-resolution photo.