ERCA raises concerns about future of tree planting

Wade Knight and Azra Fazal of Forests Ontario survey a tree planting operation. (Photo courtesy of Forests Ontario)

Over the coming weeks, the Essex Region Conservation Authority plans to reforest more than 150 acres of land by planting over 125,000 young trees.

However, its CAO fears changes to the Conservation Authorities Act will make it harder to plant trees in the years to come.

“Based on our current understanding of this legislation, in order to continue this program after this year, the Essex Region Conservation Authority will need to enter into separate agreements with each municipality within our region,” said Tim Byrne.

Bill 229 identifies tree planting as “non-mandatory.” However, conservation authorities across Ontario are waiting to hear more about the new regulations.

“Our region is one of the least forested in Canada, and having to strike agreements with each municipality to continue to tree plant at this scale could significantly impede progress,” continued Byrne. “[It would create] an additional hurdle to improving water quality, providing habitat for endangered species, and reducing soil erosion.”

In the Essex Region, just 8.5 per cent of the land is in its natural state. The United Nations identified a minimum target of 12 per cent for the health and sustainability of a region.