When the NG Times reported last May that the Ontario Government of Doug Ford had cancelled the 50 Million Trees program, designed to increase reforestation in the province, concern was expressed on many sides that the cancellation would have negative impact on agriculture in general, and the environment in particular. At a time of climate change, the importance of forest cover in maintaining soil health and air quality is even more urgent.
It is somewhat surprising, therefore, to find that an American non-profit organisation has contributed more than $50,000 to support reforestation initiatives in Ontario. One Tree Planted, a registered U.S. non-profit whose mission is to help with global reforestation, has generously given the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation (RVCF) $52,500 U.S. to help the Authority plant 70,000 trees. These new trees will cover approximately 35 hectares and will take place on conservation land in the remit of the RVCA.
The importance of this project is hard to overestimate. Before the effect of deforestation in Ontario was identified and recorded by Edmund Zavitz and his colleagues in the first half of the Twentieth Century, an enormous quantity of agricultural land had been reduced to shifting sand. Today’s Limerick Forest was a prime example of this phenomenon. Once the tree cover had been removed by settlers, the soil quickly thinned and the land became largely unproductive.
Working with politicians like then-Minister of Mines and Forests, G. Howard Ferguson of Kemptville, Zavitz and company created forest nurseries, conservation authorities, and programs of reforestation. The Ferguson Forest Centre [FFC], named after the one-time Minister and Premier, developed out of the tree nursery established originally by the Ontario Government back in the 1940’s. It is appropriate, therefore, that the 250,000 trees which the RVCA are planting in their project are purchased from the FFC.
Scott Danford, Forestry Program Manager with the RVCA, confirmed to the Times that: “Yes, the trees we plant are from the Ferguson Forest Centre. This year RVCA will be planting 250,000 trees, 70,000 of which will be funded by One Tree Planted. The trees are being funded by other planting partners. All of the trees we are planting this spring have been purchased from the Ferguson Forest Centre.”
The RCVA report that five species of conifers will be planted which will bring habitat and shelter to many animals in our area including the white-tailed deer, red fox, and pileated woodpecker. The tree planting will also protect watershed health by protecting soil from erosion, improving water quality, and reducing the risk of flooding. Healthy watersheds ensure healthy communities where trees and forest cover are valued and protected.
According to Gabriela Gard at One Tree Planted, which is donating the funds, “we are dedicated to making it easier for individuals and businesses to give back to the environment, create a healthier climate, protect biodiversity and help reforestation efforts around the world. All by planting trees!”
Scott Danford points out that the RVCA program is not just about reforestation, but also involves afforestation, introducing trees to new areas. “The focus of our tree planting program is large scale afforestation. We are mainly working with private landowners to convert abandoned farm land or marginal land to forests. We offer full-service planting projects to private landowners interested in planting 1000 trees or more (1.25 acres).”
To learn more about the RVCF and its ongoing work to protect, enhance and conserve the lands and water of the Rideau Valley visit www.rvcf.ca. To learn about local tree planting programs visit www.rvca.ca.