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article imageBlame Ontario government for three million trees to be destroyed

By Karen Graham     May 6, 2019 in Environment
Kemptville - Environmentalists are concerned the Ontario government has cut $4.7 million in funding for a massive tree planting program. One of the nurseries in the program said it will likely have to destroy about three million trees because of the cancellation.
The $4.7 million annual program was cut by Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative government in its April budget. The program aimed to plant 50 million trees across the province and has been successful in already planting 27 million trees since 2008, according to CTV News Canada.
One of the main nurseries in the 50 Million Tree Program is the Ferguson Tree Nursery in Kemptville, Ontario. CEO Ed Patchell said he can't afford to pay for staff, supplies and operating expenses to run the nursery and maintain all the trees that are in various stages of growth.
"If we don't have a potential client to buy those trees, then I can't afford to keep putting money into it. It's cheaper to destroy them at a young age than it is at the ship age, plus I don't have to keep carrying the costs. It's not something that we want to do, it's something that we're going to be forced to do because we can't financially carry it."
The 50 Million Tree Program has close to 4,000 landowners across the province involved since its inception. The minimum amount of land needed to join the Forests Ontario program was one hectare (2.5 acres).
The nice thing about the program was that it covered up to 90 percent of the cost of large-scale tree planting. The trees went to planters, conservation authorities, private contractors and stewardship groups.
Wes Herring, the vice-president of Ferguson Forest Centre, said the decision to cut a relatively small program with big benefits from the budget was short-sighted.
 Trees are th gift that keeps on giving   says Ferguson Tree Nursery.
"Trees are th gift that keeps on giving," says Ferguson Tree Nursery.
Ferguson Tree Nursery
“At a time when the global scientific community is continually uncovering a growing knowledge of the importance of forests and finding ever-increasing evidence of the vast benefits of reforestation, it is hard to imagine how a government could be so short-sighted,” he said, reports Global News, “especially in the face of increasingly extreme weather-driven events such as the flooding that is happening now across much of Ontario and beyond.”
"It can take up to four years before a tree is at a size that it's actually suitable to ship, so the challenge is, how do we pay to keep growing these things if we don't have clients?" Patchell said, adding that not all their trees are ready for shipping.
Patchell also said he does not expect to begin destroying the trees immediately and will finalize plans over the next month. There have been people who contacted the nursery wanting to buy 100 or so. Trees are so important to our environment.
The province has funded tree planting for over a century. Not only do trees reduce air pollution and erosion, but they also act as a sponge to soak up water, lessening the effect of flooding. And as Forests Ontario has already noted, the 24 million trees already planted in the program sequester 19,000 tons of carbon each year.
“People from all corners of the province and all political stripes are speaking loud and clear: they believe it is vital to continue to plant trees,” said Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario.
More about Ontario, tree planting program, Environment, Flooding, economic benefits
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