OTTAWA: Canada’s forests clean our air and water, capture and store carbon from the atmosphere, and provide a home for our wildlife.
Nature-based climate solutions, including planting trees, also create good, green jobs and more natural spaces for Canadians to enjoy.
With the 2021 tree planting season underway, the Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan Jr., and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, have provided an update on how Canada will meet the commitment to plant two billion additional trees over the next 10 years, and create 4,300 new jobs in the process.
Following a call for Expressions of Interest through its Early Start Projects stream this past February, which received 120 applications for early tree planting in 2021, NRCan is now finalizing agreements that will support the planting of over 30 million trees across the country, in both urban and rural areas.
NRCan has also launched a Request for Information through its Future Participants stream, which is identifying organizations that can contribute to large and multiyear tree-planting projects across Canada, providing the foundation to ramp up tree-planting capacity across the country.
Taken together, these efforts mean that Canada is on track to meet its target of planting two billion additional trees over the next decade.
These new trees represent a 40 percent annual increase in the number of trees already being planted in Canada, and will enlarge Canada’s forest cover by 1.1 million hectares, an area twice the size of Prince Edward Island. Planting two billion trees is an integral part of Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy.
It will help Canada meet its climate goals and will lower emissions by up to 12 megatonnes annually by 2050 by removing carbon from the atmosphere. It also builds on Canada’s commitment to invest $3.9 billion over 10 years to support the implementation of nature-based climate solutions, including protecting and restoring Canada’s grasslands, wetlands, peatlands, and farmlands.
The government will continue to work collaboratively with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous organizations, and other partners to reach our two billion target.
Seamus O’Regan Jr. said: “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 rolling out tree-planting projects right across the country. Planting trees gets us to net-zero.”
Jonathan Wilkinson said: “Canada’s nature is an essential ally in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Trees and nature also benefit our health and well-being, as has become so evident to Canadians during the past year of the pandemic. Our efforts to plant two billion trees and advance other nature-based climate solutions, including restoring wetlands and grasslands, will reduce emissions, build resilience and allow us to continue to benefit from all of the wonderful things we love about the great outdoors, including our National Parks.”
Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, added: “Farmers are key partners in the fight against climate change and stand to gain from new opportunities in a greener economy. Shelterbelts, cover-cropping, and agricultural land conservation not only store carbon and provide habitats for biodiversity, but also provide economic benefits like better soil health.”
• The Fall Economic Statement committed $3.9 billion towards nature-based climate solutions including $3.2 billion, starting in 2021–22, toward establishing partnerships to plant two billion trees over 10 years in a sustainable, inclusive manner that supports biodiversity and ensures the right tree is planted in the right place.
• 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.
• In July 2020, Minister O’Regan announced that the Government of Canada would provide $30 million to provinces to help small and mediumsized enterprises operating in the forest sector to defray costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety measures to ensure a successful 2020 tree-planting season. This resulted in 600 million trees being planted and preserved jobs for 7,000 forest sector workers.
• The government has established an advisory committee of experts on nature-based climate solutions to advise on program delivery to maximize emission reductions and deliver on key biodiversity and human wellbeing co-benefits to improve the quality of life for Canadians.
• Natural Resources Canada is implementing this plan with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, Agriculture and AgriFood Canada and Infrastructure Canada.
• In March 2021, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced an investment of $185 million over the next 10 years for the new Agricultural Climate Solutions program aiming to establish a strong, Canada-wide network of regional collaborations led by farmers and including scientists and other sectoral stakeholders. They will develop and share management practices that best store carbon and mitigate climate change.
• In tandem with the government’s efforts to restore Canada’s nature, we are also taking action to protect it. Budget 2018 and 2021 contained the two singlelargest investments in nature protection and conservation in Canada’s history that means we will protect one-quarter of Canada’s lands and oceans by 2025, and be well on our way to protect 30 percent by 2030.