The Department of National Defence will participate in the federal government’s $3.2-billion plan to plant two billion trees by 2030 to help reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The tree project is part of Canada’s response to climate change and biodiversity loss. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and improve air and water quality. Forests also influence weather and climate.
The federal government is signing long-term agreements with partners, including provinces and territories, Indigenous organizations, municipalities and DND to plant and grow the trees.
The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed in an e-mail that the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) will plant trees at most of its locations across Canada during the next seven years.
A partnership agreement was in development at press time. Half the cost of planting will be covered by the program, with CFHA absorbing the other half, plus long-term tree maintenance. The number of trees to be planted at specific locations will be determined annually by proposal from individual properties.
In 2021 more than 30 million trees were planted.
Long-term agreements are necessary to both plant trees and simultaneously build the capacity to plant more. Growing seedlings takes time; national nursery capacity needs to increase by 40 per cent to meet the demand. The tree project will gradually ramp up to 2027, when 320 million trees will be planted in urban and rural areas year after year until the target is met.
Millions of conifers have already been planted, chiefly spruce and lodgepole pine in British Columbia. Oak, maple, hickory and black walnut trees have been planted in Ontario and Quebec.
“Planting trees is an important part of our plan to fight climate change, protect biodiversity and create good jobs,” said Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson.
DND owns more than 2.1 million hectares of land and manages the 46,000-hectare National Wildlife Area at Canadian Forces Base Suffield in southern Alberta. CFHA manages housing for CAF members and their families at 27 locations across Canada.
Although the national program got off to a slow start, in 2021 more than 30 million trees were planted in 500 pro-jects throughout the country.
“Trees are a critical part of our plan to combat climate change and curb biodiversity loss,” said Steven Guilbeault, environment and climate change minister.
The tree program “will help Canada transition to a net-zero economy, protect and conserve our ecosystems, secure urban re-silience to extreme weather events, improve public health and build a nature-positive future.” It is also expected to create more than 4,000 jobs across the country.