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Canada’s 2 Billion Tree Pledge – The Reality For The Trees!

$3.16 billion is approximately $1.50 a tree! That may be enough to get each seed or seedling in the ground but leaves nothing to ensure the trees’ survival during their first year – let alone the first 20 yrs as roots establish into the open cleared land where they are intended to reforest. They have to survive heat, weather extremes, inconsistent water sources, disease and pests, weed competition, browsing by deer, unfriendly soils, and transplant shock. It’s amazing that any survive this abandonment at all!

Tree saplings planted in berm in Guelph Arboretum

Canada already replants 600 million trees each year on lands which have had mature forests removed, so these 2 billion trees over 10 years add only 200 million more a year. The planting companies must achieve approximately 80% survival rate in that first year before they get paid – in other words 1 in 5 trees are not expected to survive that all important first year. And then there are the years after that until the canopies meet and soils are cooled with shade, which is when we can say a tree is established.

When we look at urban tree planting in cities in North America, the number the US Forestry Service found was that over the first 20 years, an average of 3.7% of trees died each year, culminating in a 50% loss by the 20th year. In other words, planting a tree is pointless unless you know it is going to survive, and so each time that we hear these promises it is important to recognize that only half (at most) will reach the growth stage where they will make a difference to the levels of CO2 that need to be captured to fulfill the intended function of slowing/reducing the climatic shift which is coming.

Planting trees in urban settings is of greater importance than planting in open lands. This is because having healthy and maturing trees near our homes gives multiple benefits beyond only capturing CO2 - including shade, cooling the air, reduced electricity needs, slowing winds, increasing rainfall, stormwater management, erosion control, returning Nature around us, education, calm and peacefulness, reduced crime and so many more.

Also, by having young trees planted in every available space inside a city, those who will benefit from these trees will become the carers for the trees and ensure they are watered and protected.

This has been shown to have significant health benefits for all people living within a city, while also providing inexpensive cooling and reduced crime, all at a low cost.

People want to care for trees around their homes as has been shown during these Covid times when tree nurseries have been ‘swamped’ with demand – particularly for native trees. These extra 200 million trees that are to be planted need to be planted in homes and shared community spaces in cities. To do this, publicity and education need to go hand in hand so that these young trees are ‘adopted’ by city dwellers. Then this will create a healthy forest where it is most needed – in cities where it can have multiple benefits to us all and to nature as well.

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