Rubin: Rooting out how the government will plant two billion trees in 10 years

By Ken Rubin, Ottawa Citizen, February 10, 2020

How will the federal Liberal government meet its 2019 election pledge to plant two billion new trees by 2030? It’s not going to be easy, and it’s far from clear what the program entails.

To begin with, the government hasn’t explained what will be counted in the two-billion-tree promise. Natural Resources Canada says, for instance, that current reforestation and regeneration efforts aren’t part of the tally. But records from NRCan that I obtained using access to information legislation show that part of a $2-billion fund for low-carbon, climate-change projects approved for British Columbia, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and Quebec is for tackling insect infestations and replacing trees lost to wildfires. Does this spending and planting count in the election pledge? Unclear.

Further, as NRCan spokesperson Emily Norton acknowledged, it can take 40 to 60 years for trees to reach maturity and their full carbon sequestration potential. For trees planted today, that means they haven’t reached full potential until between 2060 and 2080. So planting trees now isn’t likely to help the government meet its 2030 targets for greenhouse emissions reductions.

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