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See the forest for the trees

In the previous eight articles, Dr. Richard Ehrlich touted the environmental and cost benefits of improving energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and switching to greener, renewable sources of energy. We should all be trying to do this, but there is another thing that you can easily do, that will have lasting effects for generations. Plant trees – plant lots of trees!

In the early 1800s, the Headwaters area was nearly all hardwood forest. Then, as the first Europeans arrived, the region was deforested for its natural resource and agriculture. Now, there is a move to reforestation once again. And it’s one of the best environmental things you can do!

A growing tree is a wonderful thing!

A growing tree provides shade in the summer and, if it’s a deciduous tree, lets the sunshine through in the winter – just when you need it most.

A growing tree provides a store of rainwater. It delays runoff and protects the soil. Before the area was deforested, the Credit River flowed at more than 100 times the current rate.

A growing tree provides natural soil conditioners. Leaves, once composted, are an excellent addition to your garden.

A growing tree provides habitat for beneficial animals and insects.

A growing tree cleans the air and removes contaminants from the soil. A process calledphotoremediation is now quite common for removing heavy metals and other nasties from the soil at large industrial sites.

A growing tree captures greenhouse gases. Trees are about 50% carbon. As they grow, through photosynthesis, trees remove CO2, the most significant greenhouse gas, and store it in their bark, boughs, leaves, roots and trunk as carbon. After the leaves fall to the forest floor, they rot and some of the carbon is stored in the soil. A large maple may weigh up to 1000 kg. That’s 500 kg of carbon that was once 1800 kg of CO2. That’s the amount of greenhouse gas your car emits every 7500 km.

A growing tree is Nature’s original solar energy system. It even has its own battery, itself. A cord of hardwood produces as much energy as 800 litres of oil[1]. What’s more, if properly managed, the woodlot, from whence the wood came, will grow by the same amount. As well, if the wood comes from deadfall, it would have rotted and returned to the atmosphere with time anyway. Wood is a renewable resource and that means no additional greenhouse gases – not like those 800 litres of oil!

Finally, a growing tree makes you feel good. Ever wonder why you like to take a walk in the wood?

The cost:

The cost of tree planting depends on the amount you want to plant.

If you’re planting a few trees in select places around your home, you can transplant them from your woodlot (or a neighbour’s – with permission). By removing a few trees, you reduce competition that allows other trees to grow in their place.

If you’re interested in planting a few hundred trees, you can buy them from the Town of Caledon. They are selling seedlings for $0.75 each. Alternatively seedlings are available from nurseries for $0.30 to $1.75 each depending on species, age and quality.

If you’re thinking about planting part of “the back forty”, I would recommend that you hire a professional forest manager. He will design a managed forest plan and suggest planting companies. The planting may cost $1500 to $1800 per hectare ($600 to $725 per acre) depending on the type of trees and the terrain. As well, the managed forest plan will qualify you for Ontario’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP)

The payback:

Selective planting around your home can reduce heating costs by 10 – 20 % and save cooling costs by 30 – 40%. Under Ontario’s Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP) qualifying lands are taxed at 25% of the residential rate. Finally, in forty or so years, your forest will be a sustainable source of income for you, your children, or your grandchildren.

For more information on MFTIP visit:

The bonus:

As your trees grow, you can enjoy them for the non-tangible, esthetic beauty and enjoy the additional wildlife that they attract.

The environmental bonus:

Each year your trees sequester CO2 from the atmosphere. For more information on what your trees contribute visit the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s on-line calculator and guide at:

D. Neil Bird
Caledon Clean Air Clean Energy Program

[1] Wood has to be burnt properly. If burnt improperly, wood smoke can add to air pollution through increase particulates.


ecoCaledon Drawdown

ecoCaledon Drawdown helps individuals and community members in Caledon be a part of Project Drawdown. Project Drawdown provides us with a road map of how we can reverse global warming together! 

For More information on Drawdown click here.

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