Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources, has launched the Government of Canada’s plan to plant two billion trees over 10 years, with an investment of $3.16 billion. Meeting this commitment will help Canada address climate change by reducing carbon pollution and is a key part of Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

“Planting two billion trees is more than a plan for climate action. It’s a plan for creating thousands of good, green jobs,” said O’Regan. “We’re confronting the urgency of climate change and getting trees in the ground starting this spring.”

Planting trees is a natural climate solution that reduces emissions while providing other benefits such as improved air and water quality, particularly in urban settings; decreased risk of wildland fire to rural communities and support for biodiversity. It also provides spaces for recreational opportunities that improve quality of life and form part of our Canadian identity.

Canada’s plan to plant two billion trees over the next 10 years is projected to reduce GHG emissions by up to 12 megatonnes by 2050. The project will create up to 4,300 jobs.

The tree planting process takes several years, and includes ordering the seeds of the desired tree species, expanding nursery capacity, grow seedlings until they’re big enough to plant in the ground, identifying and prepare available land in both cities and rural settings for adequate access and soil conditions, and monitoring the health and survival of the planted seedlings.

The Government’s plan will get trees in the ground starting this spring in urban areas across Canada. The Government has also already begun building long-term partnerships with the following to ensure proper infrastructure:

  • Indigenous organizations and communities;
  • Other governments, including provincial, territorial, and municipal, and Indigenous governments;
  • Industry, including forest management and silviculture companies, forest sector associations, and nurseries/seed orchards;
  • Farmers and agricultural stakeholders;
  • Program delivery agents, organizations with established tree planting programs, such as conservation authorities and not-for-profit organizations;
  • Corporate and philanthropic organizations with an interest in supporting large-scale tree planting and greening initiatives; and
  • Others, such as woodlot owner associations, private land and woodlot owners, community associations, universities and colleges, private firms, and other non-governmental organizations.

Natural Resources Canada is implementing this plan with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This approach, which represents a 40 per cent annual increase in the number of trees planted in Canada, will include both urban and rural areas across the country. In 10 years, the additional two billion trees will cover over 1.1 million hectares, an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island.

This is part of a broader Government of Canada approach to embrace the power of nature, recently announced as part of Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy. The Government will also establish an advisory committee of experts on nature-based climate solutions, who will provide advice on program delivery considerations to maximize emission reductions and deliver on key biodiversity and human well-being co-benefits to improve the quality of life for Canadians.

While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges in launching the tree planting program, it also reminded Canadians of the importance of our green spaces, creating renewed enthusiasm amongst Canadians and potential partners to help undertake this worthwhile initiative. The Government of Canada has a number of existing tree-planting programs currently operating, including:

  • working with communities to plant hundreds of thousands of trees through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund;
  • partnering with provinces and territories to plant 150 million new seedlings by 2022 under the Low Carbon Economy Fund;
  • providing $30 million to provinces to help small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the forest sector defray costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety measures to ensure the 2020 tree planting season was able to move forward successfully, resulting in 600 million trees planted; and
  • supporting the Highway of Heroes tree campaign, which has planted more than 750,000 of a planned two million trees between Trenton and Toronto, in Ontario.

For further information, visit: 2 Billion Trees Commitment

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