Plant a Forest, Help Clean the Air

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Eleanor Reed planting a new forest.

Eleanor Reed is planting a forest on a private property south of Millbrook. 

A licensed Forest Consultant and registered professional Forester, she helps property owners do their part in reducing their carbon footprint by transforming open, fallow fields into true forests, converting these spaces into carbon sponges for many years to come.  It’s not particularly expensive to establish a forest  thanks to planting subsidies provided by Trees Ontario as well as incentives to manage them properly through the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Plan.

Reed, who has a degree in biology and forestry from the University of Toronto, is deeply committed to forest development, and established a ten acre forest on her property north of the City of Kawartha Lakes before these incentives were conceived, but would like to see more property owners take advantage of these programs.

Once she gets started on a planting project, Reed and her small crew can plant up to five acres of trees per day with an average of up to 400 trees per acre.  But that’s near the end of the story.  It begins with a decision by a landowner with at least ten acres of relatively clear land that can accommodate planting a small (or larger) forest to plant one.  Then comes a site examination to analyse the suitability of the location.  A field dotted with Hawthorn already constitutes a forest, albeit a less desirable one.  These native species must be physically removed by a bulldozer to accommodate the kind of forest Reed delivers.   Tree species selected for the property are determined based on the soil and other conditions of the site, but seedling selection is more precise than just identifying the proportion of white pine to cedar.  Seedlings must be grown from seed originating in the same zone as the destination property to increase the likelihood of their survival.

There is a reason projects like these receive government funding.  Trees sequester carbon, absorbing carbon dioxide each year- up to 48 pounds per year storing it as carbon in the form of wood.  Younger trees absorb carbon dioxide quickly while they are growing, then reach a steady state of absorption until they eventually reach a point where the amount of carbon absorbed through photosynthesis is roughly the same as that lost through respiration and decay. If trees are harvested carefully near this time in the growth cycle and new trees are planted or allowed to regenerate, the forest can continue as a net “sink” of carbon.  To maximize the carbon impact requires careful forest management.

To qualify for incentives, projects have to be well conceived and start with a plan developed by a professional like Eleanor.   The property owner must follow a detailed 10 year Forest Management plan outlining how they will manage their forest responsibly.  The reward is a reduced property tax of 25% of the municipal residential rate on the eligible portion of the property.

To learn more about this program, visit www.ontario.ca/page/managed-forest-tax-incentive-program where you will find professionals like Reed who can help you start  your own forest. KG

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