Ontario Landowners Help Fill Tree Planting Gap

Hundreds of landowners attended free tree planting workshops to learn about planting techniques and financial incentives

TORONTO, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - Ontario landowners are realizing that they can help fight climate change by planting trees on their property. Hundreds of local residents recently attended free tree planting workshops held by Trees Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and other local partners. The workshops detailed the various tree planting programs and financial incentives available to landowners. Many landowners who attended the workshops made significant tree planting commitments for 2010 and beyond.

"The tree coverage in the province of Ontario can be further increased, which will positively impact the health of our natural ecosystem. We need to address the opportunity to expand our tree planting efforts sooner rather than later," said Michael Scott, President and CEO, Trees Ontario. "The trees and forests protect our watersheds that clean our water and air, and provide the ecological needs of our fish and wildlife."

"The workshops inspired landowners to take part in the Ontario government's 50 Million Tree program, which is the largest commitment by any jurisdiction in North America to the United Nations' Billion Tree Campaign," said Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources. "Landowners are leading by example and showing that all of us can make a difference by planting trees."

At the workshops, landowners learned about subsidy programs, good forestry practices, and how to reduce the cost of tree planting. Financial incentives available to landowners range from $0.10/tree to as high as $1.25/tree, which can reduce the cost to the landowner to as low as $0.15, depending on the size of their land and the number of trees planted. In addition, the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP), introduced by the Ontario government in 1998 and administered by the Ontario Forestry Association, can provide significant property tax reductions for landowners who own 10 acres or more of forested land. Eligible landowners work with a plan approver to prepare and follow a forest management plan. Upon acceptance into the program, the forested portion of the property is reassessed as managed forest and taxed at a reduced rate the following year for a period of 10 years.

"In some areas of southern Ontario, the forest cover is as low as five per cent. As a result, there are now more tree species at risk in those areas than anywhere else in Canada," added Scott. "We need more Ontarians to plant trees, participate in tree planting events and contribute funds to tree planting organizations like Trees Ontario who are working with conservation authorities across the province to plant tomorrow's forests."

More information on the workshops and Trees Ontario planting programs is available at www.treesontario.ca.

Trees Ontario

Trees Ontario, working with its partners, is the largest, not-for-profit tree planting partnership in North America. It is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through a range of tree planting activities.

The goal of Trees Ontario is to restore the province's tree planting capacity, especially throughout southern Ontario on private lands, by providing funding and planning support for its tree planting partners. These include local Conservation Authorities, Ontario Stewardship Councils, municipal governments and community volunteer groups.

As a charitable organization, Trees Ontario relies on the financial support of individuals, organizations, foundation grants and government to support its tree planting programs and initiatives.

This year, with its partners, Trees Ontario planted close to 3 million trees. Its goal is to support the planting of 10 million trees per year by 2015. To participate, donate and to learn more visit the Trees Ontario website at www.treesontario.ca.

Ontario Forestry Association

The Ontario Forestry Association (OFA) is a non-profit, registered charity. It is dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of all aspects of Ontario's forests, and to develop commitment to stewardship of forest ecosystems. The OFA has been involved in public education around forestry and environmental issues since the 1940s. Over the years they have been involved in major initiatives involving restoration, commemoration and the management of our forests and natural environment. To this day, they continue to increase public education and knowledge of forestry and environmental issues. Visit the OFA website at www.oforest.on.ca.

50 Million Tree Program

In August 2007, the Ontario government introduced a program to fund the planting of 50 million trees across the province by 2020, as part of its commitment to help fight climate change and green the province.

The 50 Million Tree Program is Ontario's commitment to the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. The program is also the most ambitious program of its kind in North America and the largest goal of any jurisdiction.

All kinds of good can come from setting this goal: like offsetting carbon; diversifying Ontario's landscape; moderating local climates by providing shade, moderating temperature extremes and reducing the effects of storms; creating more habitats for wildlife; improving soil and water conservation; and boosting local economic opportunities - to name just a few.

The 50 Million Tree Program can significantly cut landowners' costs of large-scale tree planting and boost the number of trees planted.

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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