Activists across Canada and the world were disheartened to hear that Ontario’s provincial government intended to cancel its 50 Million Tree program, which would have resulted in the termination of up to 3 million seedlings.
Last month, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Foresty said it would be cancelling the 50 Million Tree Program, which has already planted 27 million trees since 2008, in an effort to cut back on Ontario’s budgetary expenses.
The choice to keep the 50 Million Tree Program stemmed from public outrage at the 3 million seedlings that would be terminted along with the program. Natonal Resources and Forestry Minister John Yakabuski now says that the trees will go in the ground as planned this year.
“We’ve been working with Forests Ontario to ensure that the tree planting that is designed and scheduled for this year will go on as planned,” Yakabuski told the legislature on Monday. “For any contract that was in place, those trees will be planted this year.”
Though the trees will be saved this year, Yakabuski says that the $4.7 million a year that goes to the 50 Million Tree Program is needed to end the province’s $11.7 billion deficit.
The 50 Million Tree program began in 2008 by the previous Liberal government and is halfway to seeing through its ultimate goal of planting 50 million trees. The program was begun in response to climate change and extreme weather.
While some are cheering on the decision to keep the program, others are expressing concerns.
“What’s really troubling is at a time when we are facing all kinds of flooding, when we know that climate change is upon us, a government that cuts a 50 million tree program that plants trees to stop things like erosion and to try to deal with some of our climate challenges is completely backwards,” said Andrea Horwath, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party.
Yakabuski hopes that funding from the private sector can salvage the program beyond 2019 and noted that the private forestry industry plants 68 million trees each year.