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Continue tree planting legacy - order trees

The tree planting legacy continues


Legacy of tree planting provides benefits to water, soil; contributes to healthy, prosperous community 
Ausable Bayfield Conservation is now taking orders during January, February for spring tree planting; Planting trees can protect soil; improve crop yields; reduce winter heating and summer cooling costs; and more

People aren’t necessarily thinking ‘spring’ at this time of the year but now is a good time to order trees for planting windbreaks or other reforestation projects, according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation. Trees provide many benefits. You add to a long legacy of tree planting in Ausable and Bayfield River watersheds by planting trees, said Ian Jean, Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist.

Financial incentives for tree planting are available. Jean encourages interested landowners to give him a call to find out more. “We are happy to help with project design and to make it very easy to apply for funding,” he said. Funding programs and amounts vary depending on the type of project and the project location.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation purchases trees from private nurseries to offer for sale to watershed residents. The purchase price includes costs such transportation of trees to the administration centre east of Exeter, cold storage, and handling. Tree and shrub species that can be purchased include White Cedar, White Pine, Norway Spruce, White Spruce, Blue Spruce, Tamarack, Silver Maple, Sugar Maple, Red Oak, Bur Oak, Black Walnut, Sycamore, Tulip Tree, Red Osier Dogwood, Staghorn Sumac, and Nannyberry. Trees must be ordered in multiples of ten. Trees bought through this program are for afforestation, windbreaks, erosion control and other stewardship projects, and not for landscaping.

Tree order forms can be obtained online at or by contacting the conservation authority at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation thanks grant program funding partners including member municipalities, Huron County Clean Water Project, Forests Ontario, Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, and the Government of Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.

Forests and tree planting have benefits for water, soil, air, and human health. Trees remove carbon from the air and produce oxygen during photosynthesis. Long-term storage of carbon in living trees and wood products helps to mitigate global warming. This process, which involves trees absorbing air into their leaves, also acts to filter out many harmful pollutants from the air we breathe. 

Windbreaks protect soils on farms from wind and water erosion and reduce wind stress on field crops. This improves yields. Windbreaks also benefit livestock operations by reducing stress on animals and reducing winter heating and summer cooling costs.  

Tree planting programs in Ontario date back more than a century. An Ontario Government effort in 1883 encouraged planting of trees along roadways. Landowners received up to $0.25 per tree planted through the program. “Farmers hand-dug trees from their woodlots for planting along roadsides,” said Jean. Many old Maple trees that line our rural roads today date back to that program.  

Settlers cleared the land to grow food and pasture their livestock. Trees provided building materials and firewood for heating homes. Trees not only fueled fireplaces but also industrial brick kilns and salt brine boilers that consumed large amounts of local wood. 

Our landscape was mainly cleared of trees by the early 1900s. Wind erosion and water erosion became severe in many areas. Local and provincial leadership recognized the negative impact this was having on our landscape and waterways. In 1905 the first provincial tree nursery was established to provide trees for reforestation of marginal lands.  

The Province of Ontario and municipalities established conservation authorities in the 1940s in large part to address local concerns such as flooding and soil erosion. Forest cover, as surveyed for the Ausable River Valley Report of 1949, was between six and eight per cent in local townships. Ontario landowners carried out a period of extensive tree planting during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. “Up to half a million trees were planted annually during peak years” by farmers and on conservation lands, according to Jean. “Local landowners have planted literally millions of trees since the 1960s.”

The result of this tree planting has been a doubling of forest cover since the 1940s. According to the most recent Ausable Bayfield Watershed Report Card, forest cover now averages 14 per cent across this watershed.

“Conserving and enhancing our forests is essential for maintaining the productivity of our landscape and for water quality,” said Jean.  

Tree planting over the last decade has levelled off to between 40,000 and 70,000 trees annually. This is due to a variety of factors. “The main factor is large areas of marginal land have already been planted or regrown naturally,” said Jean. He stresses that tree planting remains important. “There are many areas that would benefit from windbreaks and there remain marginal or unused areas where productive forest could be planted,” he said.

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