LEAF's Backyard Tree Planting Program Is Growing Roots at mybackyardtree.ca

Healthy Trees, Cleaner Air, Conservation the Focus of New Campaign

TORONTO, Sept. 16 /CNW/ - Toronto's homegrown residential tree planting program, the brainchild of LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests), which recently expanded to Markham, Vaughan and Richmond Hill, is getting a profile boost with a striking, new transit shelter campaign launching this week. Residents of the City of Toronto, City of Vaughan, Town of Markham and Town of Richmond Hill are eligible for this program.

The campaign is designed to increase awareness of the environmental benefits of trees and directs its audience to mybackyardtree.ca to apply to LEAF's Backyard Tree Planting Program. The campaign is sponsored by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), York Region, Town of Markham, Toronto Hydro, and Ontario Power Authority. LEAF is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and improvement of the urban forest through education, training and planting initiatives.

"We're excited to be reaching so many residents through this transit shelter campaign with the important message that trees are essential for healthy neighbourhoods," says Janet McKay, Executive Director of LEAF. "The simple act of planting a tree in your backyard can help clean our air, reduce our need for air conditioning and increase property values. And since LEAF plants native species, the program will also create much needed habitats for songbirds and butterflies."

LEAF's successful Backyard Tree Planting Program is made possible through the support of partners that have an interest in helping communities go green. Participating residents pay only $100 to $190 per tree which includes a 30-minute consultation with an arborist, a 6 to 8 foot tall tree and full planting service. The focus of the program is getting the right tree in the right place and ensuring property owners have the information they need to nurture the tree to maturity.

Since 2000, OPG and its conservation partners have planted more than 3.8 million trees and shrubs on more than 1,850 hectares of land. That's enough to offset about 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of those trees - helping to mitigate climate change.

"This campaign conveys so effectively what is important to OPG - making people aware of what they can do to protect nature and fight climate change," said Cara Clairman, VP, Sustainable Development, OPG. "At OPG, we believe that industry has a role to play in conserving Ontario's biodiversity," she added.

OPG Biodiversity 2009 is a series of province-wide conservation-focused, family-friendly action and education events and initiatives sponsored by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in partnership with Ontario Nature, LEAF and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Its goal is to get people involved in protecting and conserving biodiversity in our urban parklands and forest ecosystems. Biodiversity 2009 builds on OPG's commitment to conserving, sustaining and protecting nature and fighting climate change.

For further information on LEAF's Backyard Tree Planting program, please visit yourbackyardtree.ca and to learn more about OPG Biodiversity 2009, please visit www.opgbiodiversity.ca

SOURCE LEAF (LOCAL ENHANCEMENT AND APPRECIATION OF FORESTS)

For further information: For further information: LEAF: Robin Sutherland, Manager, Marketing & Community Outreach (416) 413-9244 x16; OPG Media Desk: (416) 592-4008 or 1-877-592-4008

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LEAF (LOCAL ENHANCEMENT AND APPRECIATION OF FORESTS)

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