United Nations declares Ontario's 50 million tree planting program the largest in North America

    UN Recognizes Ontario's Leadership In Fight Against Climate Change

    OAKVILLE, ON, Aug. 13 /CNW/ - The United Nations today recognized the
McGuinty government's plan to plant 50 million trees in southern Ontario as
the most ambitious project of its kind in North America, Premier Dalton
McGuinty announced today.
    "We're working hard to reduce emissions, and today we're taking a bold
new step that will make Ontario more beautiful and our environment healthier,"
said McGuinty. "We're tackling climate change in a lot different ways, but all
our efforts have one thing in common: we need Ontarians to work with us and do
their part."
    The United Nations Environment Programme has launched the Plant for the
Planet: Billion Tree Campaign. People around the world are encouraged to enter
tree-planting pledges online with the objective of planting at least one
billion trees per year worldwide. Ontario's commitment represents the biggest
pledge in North America.
    The government is working with partners to plant as many as five million
trees per year in southern Ontario to reach 50 million trees by 2020. The
initiative will cost $79 million and help remove 3.8 million tonnes of carbon
dioxide from our atmosphere by 2054, equal to 172 million car trips from
Toronto to Barrie.
    "I must applaud Ontario for joining this world-wide effort to plant a
billion trees. Many people, faced with huge, seemingly insurmountable
challenges such as climate change can often feel powerless to act," said
Professor Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. "Tree planting
restores that power back to individuals and communities making them again part
of the solution to the climate change challenge. However, the act of planting
a tree goes further - reconnecting the human spirit to the beauty and
importance of the natural world which is the basis of all life on Earth."
    "Ontarians know that planting trees cleans the air, provides shade,
increases wildlife habitat, helps prevent flooding and stores carbon," said
Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay. "By working together with
conservation organizations and citizens, we can take action to reduce the
impacts of climate change and grow a greener province."
    "Today's announcement opens the door for us to now start the necessary
work with our tree planting partners to reach the 2020 target," said John
Cary, Chair of the Trees Ontario Foundation. "We are very pleased that the
Ontario government has stepped forward with this major commitment today, and
we look forward to working with them and our partners on restoring the vital
role that healthy new forests play in protecting our environment in southern
    "We are proud to join forces with other like-minded jurisdictions around
the world in the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign," said Laurel Broten,
Minister of the Environment. "By protecting trees on the Greenbelt and
planting 50 million new ones, Ontario is cleaning the air and sequestering
carbon - an important step towards fighting global warming."
    The Premier was joined at the event by scientist and astronaut Dr.
Roberta Bondar, who chaired the government's Working Group on Environmental
Education. Premier McGuinty announced that the government is implementing the
group's recommendations, such as integrating environmental education into all
grades and developing a new optional Grade 11 course focussed on the
    "Students care deeply about building a brighter, more sustainable future
for themselves and future generations," Bondar said. "Integrating
environmental knowledge into their curriculum will equip them to better
protect the local and global environment."
    The plan to plant 50 million trees is just one more example of how,
working together, Ontarians are achieving results in ensuring a healthier
natural environment and responding to climate change. Other initiatives

    -   Making $220 million in loans and grants available to help
        municipalities reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving and
        retrofitting buildings
    -   Setting ambitious but realistic targets to reduce greenhouse gases
        below 1990 levels - six per cent by 2014, 15 per cent by 2020 and an
        80 per cent reduction by 2050
    -   Launching a $650-million fund that will help secure the next
        generation of high-paying jobs for Ontarians by developing new clean
        and green technologies.

    "When it comes to climate change, we've come a long way, but we have much
more to do," said Premier McGuinty. "We've set ambitious goals, but I have no
doubt that, by working together, we'll be able to look back with a sense of
pride at our accomplishments and the greener province we've built."

    Disponible en français


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For further information: Premier's Media Office, (416) 314-8975

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