Today, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, launched the Government of Canada’s plan to plant two billion trees over 10 years, with an investment of $3.16 billion. Meeting this commitment will help Canada address climate change by reducing carbon pollution and is a key part of Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
There is no path to net-zero emissions that does not involve our forests. Planting trees is a natural climate solution that reduces emissions while providing other benefits such as improved air and water quality, particularly in urban settings; decreased risk of wildland fire to rural communities and support for biodiversity. It also provides spaces for recreational opportunities that improve quality of life and form part of our Canadian identity.
Canada’s plan to plant two billion trees over the next ten years is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 12 megatonnes by 2050. It will create up to 4,300 good jobs.
While planting a tree may sound simple, ensuring that it can be done on a large scale and in a sustainable, inclusive manner requires careful planning. The tree planting process takes several years, and begins with ordering the seeds of the desired tree species. From there, we must expand nursery capacity; grow seedlings until they’re big enough to plant in the ground; identify and prepare available land in both cities and rural settings for adequate access and soil conditions; and monitor the health and survival of the planted seedlings.
The Government’s plan will get trees in the ground starting this spring in urban areas across Canada. The Government has also already begun building long-term partnerships so that Canada has the infrastructure, especially nurseries, to carry out the full tree-planting plan. That includes strengthening our relationships with
- Indigenous organizations and communities;
- Other governments, including provincial, territorial, and municipal, and Indigenous governments;
- Industry, including forest management and silviculture companies, forest sector associations, and nurseries/seed orchards;
- Farmers and agricultural stakeholders
- Program delivery agents, organizations with established tree planting programs, such as conservation authorities and not-for-profit organizations;
- Corporate and philanthropic organizations with an interest in supporting large-scale tree planting and greening initiatives; and
- Others, such as woodlot owner associations, private land and woodlot owners, community associations, universities and colleges, private firms, and other non-governmental organizations.
The Government’s plan also includes work to ensure we are able to monitor the trees planted for survival and report on the carbon they sequester.
Investing in nature is among the most affordable climate actions governments can take. Canada is fortunate to have a vast range of healthy and resilient ecosystems, including forests and urban parks, which support the well-being of Canadians. These ecosystems help absorb and store enormous amounts of carbon, which can mitigate the impacts of climate change and keep our air clean.
Natural Resources Canada is implementing this plan with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This approach, which represents a 40 percent annual increase in the number of trees planted in Canada, will include both urban and rural areas across the country.
In 10 years, the additional two billion trees will cover over 1.1 million hectares, an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island.
This is part of a broader Government of Canada approach to embrace the power of nature, recently announced as part of Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy. The Government will also establish an advisory committee of experts on nature-based climate solutions, who will provide advice on program delivery considerations to maximize emission reductions and deliver on key biodiversity and human well-being co-benefits to improve the quality of life for Canadians.
While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges in launching the tree planting program, it also reminded Canadians of the importance of our green spaces, creating renewed enthusiasm amongst Canadians and potential partners to help undertake this worthwhile initiative. The Government of Canada has a number of existing tree-planting programs currently operating, including:
- working with communities to plant hundreds of thousands of trees through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund;
- partnering with provinces and territories to plant 150 million new seedlings by 2022 under the Low Carbon Economy Fund;
- providing $30 million to provinces to help small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the forest sector defray costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety measures to ensure the 2020 tree planting season was able to move forward successfully, resulting in 600 million trees planted; and
- supporting the Highway of Heroes tree campaign, which has planted more than 750,000 of a planned two million trees between Trenton and Toronto, in Ontario.
“Planting two billion trees is more than a plan for climate action. It’s a plan for creating thousands of good, green jobs. We’re confronting the urgency of climate change and getting trees in the ground starting this spring.”
Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources
“Canadians want cleaner air, cleaner water, and good, secure jobs when we recover from the pandemic. Planting two billion trees is an important part of our government’s plan to do just that. These trees will absorb pollution, clean our air and water and help communities adapt to the effects of a changing climate.”
Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change