A Barrie-based organization has signed an agreement with Natural Resources Canada’s 2 Billion Trees (2BT) program to plant 31 million trees across the country by March 31, 2031.
Forests Ontario/Forest Recovery Canada says the pact will help "minimize the devastating effects of climate change, encourage biodiversity, enhance wildlife habitat, and support green job creation."
Forests Ontario CEO Jess Kaknevicius and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson signed the joint pact on Monday announced with a commitment of more than $123 million that will see 31 million trees planted across the country.
The federal government will cover 50 per cent of project costs through the 2BT program, while Forests Ontario says it will work with corporate partners and donors across Canada to contribute to the balance of the project costs.
“This is a generational opportunity for organizations and individuals across the country to show their environmental leadership,” Kaknevicius said in a news release. “We have the support of the government of Canada and now we need corporate partners and donors to stand with our planting partners, conservation authorities, Indigenous community partners, municipalities, and community groups and play a vital role in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change.”
Officials say the success of a planting project this size is possible thanks to Forests Ontario’s "comprehensive network of experts who collect high-quality seed, grow the seedlings with trusted nurseries, work with local planting partners, and manage survival assessments to improve climate resilience and biodiversity in our natural environments.
They also say these goals align with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.
Wilkinson said Monday’s announcement represents "a major step toward our goal of planting two billion trees to deliver cleaner air, enhance biodiversity, and advance climate action across Canada. Forests Ontario’s efforts to plant more than 31 million trees across the country will benefit communities and create good jobs.
"Collaborative partnerships like the one between Canada and Forests Ontario are producing important results for Canadians and ensuring that the right tree is planted in the right place for the right reasons," he added.
This announcement builds on the original 2BT program agreement between the federal government and Forests Ontario from November 2022. Over the past 20 years, Forests Ontario has been responsible for planting more than 43 million trees on over 8,000 project sites across Canada, creating more than 20,000 hectares of new forests.
“Nature is our greatest ally in fighting climate change. Planting more trees is a nature-based climate solution that helps reduce the risk of flooding and wildfires, cleans our air and water, supports biodiversity and sequesters carbon emissions,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault.
“It’s also one of our best tools to build thriving, livable cities in Ontario and across Canada," he added.
Forests Ontario opened its new headquarters last year on Maple Avenue in downtown Barrie.