By Karen Graham
Under clear skies with rain in the forecast for the following day, the conditions were ideal on Saturday for the Otonabee Regional Conservation Authorities’ tree planting event.
Approximately 300 members of local scout organizations filed in at twenty minute intervals to take their spots along pre-cut lines in a field on the south side of the Peterborough Airport, ready to plant!
Otonabee Conservation, Kawartha Waterways Scouts and volunteers with the Otonabee Conservation Foundation were ready, with spades in hand, to plant 5,500 trees an open field on Moncrief Line on the site of a former sod farm. The property was purchased by the City of Peterborough in order to accommodate the expansion of the airport facility a few years ago.
The field presented ideal conditions, with a planting line already cut and cones marking the ends of each tree line. The soil was quite pliable and fairly moist in some areas, and after a planting demonstration provided by ORCA CAO Dan Maringh, the Scouts were ready to plant their pails of seedlings of native species including Eastern White Cedar, White and Red Pine and White Spruce. The tree species will create a mixed and diverse forest habitat, and will also provide a buffer to the airport areas.
Meredith Carter, Manager of the Watershed Management Program for Otonabee Conservation was also on hand to steer the event, saying “It will be an exciting and energizing opportunity for the Scouts and we hope they feel a great sense of accomplishment, as they contribute to this environmentally positive project.”
The 2016 spring tree planting program is organized by Otonabee Conservation in partnership with the Kawartha Waterways Area Scouts, the City of Peterborough, the Township of Selwyn, and the Otonabee Conservation Foundation. ORCA first introduced a spring tree planting assistance program for private landowners in 1963 to encourage the reforestation of idle and marginal lands. The organization helps in the tree species selection based on the soil and drainage conditions of the planting site, assists in ordering and delivering the trees to the planting site. The landowner is responsible for the purchase price of the trees. An average of 7,500 trees has been planted annually during the past five years with the assistance of the Kawartha Waterways Scouts and volunteers with the Otonabee Conservation Foundation.
Participants including Maringh and Scout leader Arnold Allen both have fond memories of planting trees as young scouts in conservation areas near their home towns. The Peterborough Scouts organization has planted over 500,000 trees so far, and Allen hopes they reach the million tree mark in the future.
Planting more trees is one of the practical ways to combat climate change. While they are growing, trees use sunlight to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it as carbon in the form of wood. During this process, the trees release oxygen back into the atmosphere. Acting as a natural air conditioner, the evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-sized residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. Tree windbreaks can reduce residential heating costs 10-15%; while shading and evaporative cooling from trees can cut residential air-conditioning costs 20-50%. In one year an acre of mature trees supporting1,000 trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people, and absorb the amount of carbon dioxide produced from driving a car 42,000 kilometers.
ORCA can help private landowners who are interested in having an area of 10 acres or more their land planted with seedlings. They will provide guidance in the selection of the appropriate tree and shrub varieties to match the soil type and drainage characteristics of the location. They also offer a number of stewardship activities aimed at enhancing or restoring habitat and natural heritage features, including tree planting; shoreline restoration and naturalization; habitat creation and the enhancement and stabilization of shorelines. For more information, visit http://www.otonabee.com/stewardship/tree-planting/.