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Forests Ontario plans to plant more than 2.8 million trees throughout the province in 2021, including more than 65,000 in Prescott-Russell. Submitted photo

More than 65,000 trees to be planted in Prescott-Russell through Forests Ontario program

There will soon be more trees in Prescott-Russell.

Forests Ontario, a not-for-profit tree planting organization, is working with planting partners across the province to plant more than 2.8 million trees through their 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP), with more than 65,000 of these trees taking root in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.

Tree planting, deemed an essential service in March 2020 by the Ontario government, is a time-sensitive business.

“Unfortunately, tree seedlings are quite perishable and need to be planted soon after coming from the nursery – careful timing and fine-tuned logistics are required,” said Rob Keen, Registered Professional Forester and CEO of Forests Ontario.

In order to continue with spring tree planting while keeping landowners and tree planters safe, Forests Ontario has distributed COVID-19 field work recommendations and guidelines to all planting partners, which may also be complemented by partners’ own Standard Operating Procedures. These guidelines include physical distancing, the use of personal protective equipment, and frequent sanitization of touch points.

Since 2008, more than 550,000 trees have been planted in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell through Forests Ontario’s 50 MTP, and more than 31 million trees province wide. The program provides financial and technical assistance to landowners who wish to plant a minimum of 500 trees on their property.

Forests Ontario also offers an Over-The-Counter program for landowners and organizations who are unable to meet the minimum 500-tree requirement of the 50 MTP. The aim of these programs is to increase forest cover in the province in order to enhance the many benefits trees support.

“The 50 MTP benefits landowners and their communities immensely,” explained Keen, noting the 50 MTP pays for an average of 75 to 90 per cent of tree planting costs for eligible landowners.

Some landowners may qualify for the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP). Under MIFTIP, landowners pay just 25 per cent of the municipal tax rate for residential forest properties.

For landowners unable to plant the minimum number of 500 trees for the 50 MTP, the Forests Ontario Over-The-Counter program offers trees at a discounted rate.

Each year, Forests Ontario’s network of cross-province planting partners works closely with local landowners to develop individual site plans and select native tree species that satisfy their specific vision. This can include flood protection, shading a house, creating a windbreak, helping pollinators, providing a habitat or a path for animals to travel between forested areas, boosting local ecosystems, and more. As of June, 2019, the 50 MTP is supported by the Government of Canada, corporate sponsors, and donors.

Of course it’s never too early to think about planting for next spring. Anyone who wishes to apply to be added to the waiting list for the 2022 planting season can visit www.forestsontario.ca/en/program/50-million-tree-program.

Forests Ontario is a not-for-profit charity dedicated to re-greening the province through the support of tree planting, forest restoration, stewardship, education and awareness.