Ontarians get the picture - there are not nearly enough trees and forests in
southern Ontario

Private sector and general public funding plays a vital role in planting tomorrow's forests, says Trees Ontario

TORONTO, March 17 /CNW/ - Ontario's spring tree planting begins in April. And, almost everyone knows southern Ontario needs more trees, according to a recent Ipsos Reid poll that reported:

    -   Nine in ten (87%) Ontarians believe that the amount of tree loss in
        Ontario every year is a serious problem
    -   Most (82%) believe the collective impact of tree loss over the past
        decade has created a crisis for Ontario's ecosystem

Over the past five years, Trees Ontario, North America's largest not-for-profit tree planting partnership has been hard at work with its partners identifying private land for planting, speaking to landowners, raising funds to support tree planting initiatives, monitoring tree seedling growth and conducting technical workshops on soils, stock, seed and tree planting.

Trees Ontario's funding support has helped plant more than 8 million seedlings across the watersheds of southern Ontario over the past 5 years. To maintain and increase this support, however, Trees Ontario must look to the private sector and general public for their financial support.

"Our goal is to help green up Ontario one tree at a time and we see from these survey results that Ontarians understand and fundamentally support this initiative," said Michael Scott, President and CEO of Trees Ontario. "Our challenge remains - to secure the level of funding necessary to rebuild the tree planting infrastructure across the watersheds of southern Ontario - for planting this spring and beyond."

Trees Ontario's goal is to support the planting of 10 million trees a year on rural, private lands in southern Ontario. Over 900,000 hectares of rural land, ideal for tree planting, is available. Looking ahead, Trees Ontario is trying to help restore natural forest cover across the province's watersheds to an average level of 30% - the level recommended by Environment Canada in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem. To achieve this, more than one billion seedlings need to be planted across southern Ontario.

"Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources has made a major commitment - to plant 50 million trees by 2020 - and we are proud to be helping them deliver this program. But we have long passed the point where we can all sit back and expect the government to address our environmental challenges alone," said Scott.

Over the past month the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Trees Ontario, along with its partners, the Ontario Forestry Association (OFA), and local conservation authorities hosted seven free workshops on the resources and incentives available for landowners to plant trees on private rural properties.

"We have many good programs underway and wonderful tree planting partners, including Conservation Authorities, local stewardship councils, volunteers, and forestry consultants who help us plant the right tree in the right place to further protect the biodiversity of their watersheds. We know from our research this is a cause that the majority of Ontarians support. All systems are ready to go, but we now need more public support," said Michael Scott.

Trees Ontario is a not-for-profit organization that was established to help re-green the province of Ontario. It provides funding and technical support to tree planting agencies and organizations across southern Ontario, including Conservation Authorities, local Stewardship Councils and municipalities.

Research Highlights

Thinking about the amount of trees Ontario has lost over the past decade due to various reasons including urbanization, infestation, fire and climate change, nine in ten (87%) believe that the amount of trees Ontario loses every year constitutes a 'serious problem' (40% very/47% somewhat). Just 13% think it's not a problem (11% not very serious/2% not at all serious).

Moreover, most (82%) Ontarians believe the collective impact these events have had on Ontario's ecosystem and biosphere has created a 'crisis' (25% severe/57% somewhat), according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Trees Ontario. Only two in ten (18%) believe that there is 'really not a crisis at all'.

When the ecosystem/biosphere in southern Ontario loses trees - over 10,000 hectares of forested land has been lost in the past 10 years due to urbanization alone - efforts are made to renew the loss. But whereas a decade ago Ontario renewal was taking place by planting an average of 20 million trees a year on rural, private lands in southern Ontario, in the 1980's; this has dropped to as low as 2 million trees per year, mainly due to lack of funding - particularly from non-government agencies. Despite the many competing environmental issues confronting the province, nine in ten (87%) Ontarians believe that a high priority (36% very high/51% somewhat high) should be placed on increasing our collective efforts to plant more trees on rural and private lands in Ontario. Just 13% believe the priority should be somewhat low (11%) or not a priority at all (2%).

The research factum and tables can be found at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=4717

SOURCE Forests Ontario

For further information: For further information: Paul Tyler, GoldFenix Communications, tel: (905) 235-7285, e-mail: pt@goldfenixcom.ca

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