Stu­dents join 50 mil­lion trees cam­paign

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News

BY STEVEN WARBURTON

Staff On this warm Thurs­day morn­ing in late May, Holy Trin­ity Sec­ondary School teacher Mike Smith is smil­ing while he watches a group of Grades 7 and 8 stu­dents plant spruce trees on school prop­erty.

“The kids have been stuck in­side for six months be­cause of bad weather,” says Mr. Smith, who teaches agri­cul­ture at the school. “So it’s nice to see them come out­side so they can do some­thing where they will be im­me­di­ately re­warded.”

Holy Trin­ity just fin­ished a week’s worth of tree-plant­ing, which saw them place white pines, Nor­way and white spruces, sil­ver maples, white and red oak, and but­ter­nut trees in three dif­fer­ent sec­tions of the school’s 43-acre prop­erty. They also planted Nor­way spruces along a 430-me­tre sec­tion of the school’s eastern boundary, which should op­er­ate as a wind­break.

The school re­ceived the trees as part of the On­tario gov­ern­ment’s 50 Mil­lion Trees pro­gram, which has the stated goal of plant­ing 50 mil­lion trees by 2025. In­ter­ested landown­ers need one hectare (2.5 acres) of suit­able land and must sign a 15-year agree­ment to care for the trees.

“A lot of the land here is un­used,” Mr. Smith says. “The trees will add value, im­prove the air qual­ity, and re­duce our car­bon foot­print.”

For An­drea Stang, Holy Trin­ity’s Ecoschool lead, plant­ing the trees is part of up­grad­ing Holy Trin­ity’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from gold to plat­inum.

Ac­cord­ing to On­tario ecoschools – whose mis­sion is to ”nur­ture en­vi­ron­men­tal lead­ers, re­duce the eco­log­i­cal im­pact of schools, and build en­vi­ron­men­tally re­spon­si­ble school com­mu­ni­ties” – a plat­inum cer­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quires plenty of at­ten­tion. Last week’s tree plant­ing is just one com­po­nent. Schools are also asked to mi­cro­man­age day-to-day oper- ations to en­sure that lights are turned off when they’re not re­quired, that blinds and cur­tains are closed to min­i­mize heat loss, and that elec­tronic equip­ment be used more ef­fi­ciently, such as us­ing dou­ble-sided pho­to­copies to re­duce paper waste.

The plat­inum cer­ti­fi­ca­tion also re­quires that a school be gold cer­ti­fied for at least three of the five pre­ced­ing years.

Ms. Stang says that the school has a num­ber of other en­vi­ron­men­tal com­po­nents in place. It has a thor­ough re­cy­cling pro­gram, will soon have a green­house to grow pro­duce that will be sold, and hopes to be­gin com­post­ing in the fall. Nor­mand Génier, Forestry Spe­cial­ist with the Raisin Re­gion Con­ser­va­tion Author­ity, was at the school on Thurs­day to help with the tree plant­ing. He taught the stu­dents how to dig proper holes and how to plant trees, en­sur­ing the holes were deep enough so that the roots could ex­tend all the way into the soil.

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