The Government of Canada intends to invest up to $15 million over four years to support Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program, according to an announcement from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Paul Lefebvre, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Natural Resources, on June 5.
The investment was announced in recognition of World Environment Day and aims to help Forests Ontario deliver on its vision to plant 50 million trees by 2025. The funding for Forests Ontario, subject to funding agreements, will be administered through Natural Resources Canada using part of Ontario’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund allocation, according to the release. Healthy forests fight climate change by absorbing carbon pollution and protecting against erosion in flood zones, but climate change increases the frequency, duration and intensity of forest fires, which release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Rob Keen, registered professional forester and CEO of Forests Ontario, said that 40 per cent forest cover is required for an ecosystem to maintain its health, but central/southern Ontario currently has an average of 26 per cent forest cover with some areas as low as 5 per cent.
“The Government of Canada’s support for the Forests Ontario tree planting program demonstrates an understanding of the important contribution trees make to our lives and the environment,” Keen said. “This funding ensures that the momentum and good work of Forests Ontario and our planting partners will be maintained. This is important ‘seed money’ to be matched by others – an approach that is embraced by our organization. In the immediate term, it means the investments made by nurseries and others will not be lost.”
The Government of Ontario announced it was cancelling funding for Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program with the release of the budget in April this year.
“I was disappointed by the Government of Ontario’s decision to cut funding for this valuable program, and am proud to see the Government of Canada step up,” Lefebvre said. “This is a practical and affordable way to support middle class jobs and small businesses like nurseries across the province, while investing in vibrant communities and a better future.”
To learn more about the 50 Million Tree Program, click here.