We need more trees

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - Rob Keen, RPF CEO - Forests On­tario

The Ed­i­tor, Hav­ing spent my life sur­rounded by trees, 40 years in a pro­fes­sional ca­pac­ity, I know when our forests are healthy, they pro­vide an im­pres­sive range of ser­vices and ben­e­fits.

While the value of our for­est’s abil­ity to se­quester car­bon and mit­i­gate the ef­fects of cli­mate change is un­de­ni­able, trees do so much more. Forests sup­port wildlife and bio­di­ver­sity, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, ben­e­fit hu­man health, sup­ply­ing ecosys­tem ser­vices such as wa­ter and air pu­rifi­ca­tion, and con­tribut­ing to our cul­ture as maple leaf wav­ing Cana­di­ans.

Re­cent news me­dia coverage con­tends that in­creases in for­est fires and in­sect in­fes­ta­tions are con­vert­ing our forests into be­ing a car­bon source rather than a car­bon sink. With more trees equal­ing more car­bon se­ques­tra­tion, healthy, grow­ing, well-man­aged forests ab­sorb sig­nif­i­cantly more car­bon than they emit. The forests best suited to adapt­ing to cli­mate change and most re­silient to nat­u­ral dis­tur­bances are large, con­tigu­ous, di­verse, and healthy. Forests like this are bet­ter equipped to mit­i­gate and adapt to cli­mate change ef­fects. Plant­ing more trees make sense.

Trees do amaz­ing things even when no longer in the ground. Us­ing wood from our man­aged forests can lock up se­questered car­bon well be­yond the nat­u­ral life span of a tree. Con­sider, that your wood framed house stores the amount of car­bon emit­ted by run­ning a fam­ily car for five years; con­sider that 30,000 homes like this are built in just On­tario each year.

There is a grow­ing need for more forests, es­pe­cially on frag­mented land­scapes in some parts of south­ern On­tario. Sci­ence says, 50 per cent for­est cover (at the wa­ter­shed level) is the thresh­old re­quired to sup­port healthy aquatic sys­tems and the species. In some ar­eas of southwest On­tario, for­est cover has fallen as low as 5 per cent. To reach even 30 per cent for­est cover, best es­ti­mates in­di­cate at least one bil­lion new trees are needed, and this means plant­ing.

On­tar­i­ans should be proud of our world class for­est man­age­ment prac­tices and tree plant­ing ini­tia­tives, such as the 50 Mil­lion Tree Pro­gram that pro­vides landown­ers with low-cost and tech­ni­cal help that is cre­at­ing On­tario forests of to­mor­row.

For all these rea­son, you can see why I think On­tario needs more trees.

We also need a con­ver­sa­tion about ad­vanc­ing a na­tional tree plant­ing strat­egy, join this con­ver­sa­tion by fol­low­ing @ItTakesAFo­r­est.

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