How millions of Ontario trees escaped Doug Ford’s cuts

By Elaine Alselmi, Climate Watch, June 6, 2019

(...)Planting a forest isn’t cheap. At the first property we visit, a 5.5-hectare former hay farm, it costs about $3,800 per hectare, factoring in labour, the cost of nearly 11,000 seedlings, and the creation of a forest­-management plan. That’s why, in 2008, the then-Liberal provincial government unveiled the 50 Million Tree Program, which subsidizes the costs of planting and was initially intended to encourage communities and private landowners to plant 50 million trees by 2020.

(...)But, in April, the Progressive Conservative government announced that it was cutting the program. The money, the Tories argued, wasn’t being put to good use. In the 11 years since its inception, the program helped fund the planting of 27 million trees, “well short of their initial goal of 50,000,000 trees by 2020,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry told via email. By contrast, she added, “the forest industry has planted over 1,000,000,000 trees since 2005.”

Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario, disagrees with that assessment. He points out that, in 2013, the province extended the program through 2025 because the funding hadn’t kept up with the rising costs of planting.

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