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P.E.I. speeds up tree planting with new programs and greenhouses

P.E.I. speeds up tree planting with new programs and greenhouses
P.E.I. speeds up tree planting with new programs and greenhouses

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: الجمعة 24 مايو 2024 07:21 صباحاً

The province is ramping up tree production over the next six years, following in the footsteps of a federal program called 2 Billion Trees.

The national program aims to plant that many trees by 2031. Provincially, there are four programs that will plant 300,000 additional trees per year. That's on top of the 1 million trees that were already being planted annually.

The P.E.I. 2 Billion Trees program is run by the provincial Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action.

"These trees will help us reach our net zero goals as well as hold carbon, create buffer zones, help with wildlife corridors, and generally increase our green spaces on the Island," said Hailey Blacquiere, the 2BT co-ordinator for Prince Edward Island.

There are three shiny new greenhouses at the J. Frank Gaudet tree nursery to help produce the additional 300,000 saplings needed annually for P.E.I.'s 2 Billion Trees program.

There are three shiny new greenhouses at the J. Frank Gaudet tree nursery to help produce the additional 300,000 saplings needed annually for P.E.I.'s 2 Billion Trees program.

There are three shiny new greenhouses at the J. Frank Gaudet Tree Nursery to help produce the 300,000 additional saplings needed annually for P.E.I.'s 2 Billion Trees program. (Rob LeClair/CBC)

"Any Islander that has a property that's over 2 1/2 acres can apply to our landowner and agriculture stream, and anybody with a property lower than 2 1/2 acres can apply to our watershed and smaller sites stream," Blacquiere said.

"We cover pretty well every Islander as long as they are looking to get at least 50 trees in the ground."

Blacquiere said the trees will be saplings spaced two metres apart, and are all native species: red maple, white pine, yellow birch, white spruce, white birch and eastern hemlock.

We cover pretty well every Islander as long as they are looking to get at least 50 trees in the ground.
—Hailey Blacquiere, P.E.I. 2 Billion Trees co-ordinator

She said the native species have some resilience to climate change, and they do very well across the Island in different habitats.

The trees are being grown at the J. Frank Gaudet Tree Nursery in Charlottetown, which has three new greenhouses to help support the increased production for the 2BT program.

Pre-dated Fiona impact

Blacquiere said the program was in the works before the damage from post-tropical storm Fiona in September 2022, but will help replace some of the trees destroyed by the super-strong weather system.

"Initially, it might not make a huge difference because we are trying to recoup from Fiona," Blacquiere said of the trees being planted now, before adding: "It will help, regardless."

The program began in 2022 with support from the federal government, which is picking up half of the $3.3 million cost over three years. There will be a second phase of the program, which will take it to 2031.

The program began in 2022 with support from the federal government, which is picking up half of the $3.3 million cost over three years. There will be a second phase of the program, which will take it to 2031.

The program began in 2022 with support from the federal government, which is picking up half of the $3.3 million cost over three years. There will be a second phase of the program, which will take it to 2031. (Rob LeClair/CBC)

Blacquiere said municipalities can also get involved in the 2 Billion Trees program, if they're looking to buy large-caliper trees for their green spaces and residential programs. Those are taller tree saplings, with a bigger trunk diameter.

She said seven municipalities are involved so far, and there have been more than 250 applications to the landowner streams. 

The program began in 2022 with support from the federal government, which is picking up half of the $3.3 million cost over three years. A second phase of the program is expected to take the program to 2031.

Site assessments this summer

The P.E.I. Watershed Alliance has been contracted to deliver one of the programs, to smaller sites and riparian zones — land located along bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. The group is doing site assessments now, with the goal of selecting locations for planting in 2025.

"We start with asking the landowner what their goals are, what species they like, and which ones maybe they don't want on their property because they might already have some," said co-ordinator Kassidy Matheson.

"We also look to see what the wind conditions are like, if they have septic tanks or power lines, and what trees are already growing well here — and maybe signs of any stress on trees."

Kassidy Matheson is the 2 Billion Trees co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance.  She is currently doing site visits to decide which trees will be planted where on small sites and in watershed areas in 2025.

Kassidy Matheson is the 2 Billion Trees co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance. She is currently doing site visits to decide which trees will be planted where on small sites and in watershed areas in 2025.

Kassidy Matheson is the 2 Billion Trees co-ordinator for the P.E.I. Watershed Alliance. She is currently doing site visits to decide which trees will be planted where on small sites and in watershed areas in 2025. (Rob LeClair/CBC)

Matheson said about 150 landowners are signed up so far, and about 75 per cent of them had damage from Fiona.

"I think people are concerned generally about climate change, especially when it comes to trees," she said. "After Fiona, we did see all of the aftermath. And so they're hoping for diversity in the planting mixes that we're offering so that they don't have the single species all collapse at once."

You can't beat free — and having somebody else do the labour, right?
— Peter McDougall

Matheson said she hopes to triple the number of sites, with a goal of planting 100,000 trees in 2025, with the help of watershed groups across the Island.

Peter McDougall has applied to the 2 Billion Trees program to add some trees on his property in Wheatley River.

"First off, who doesn't love trees? And we lost a lot of trees during Fiona," McDougall said, adding that other trees went down during post-tropical storm Dorian in 2019 and an ice storm this past winter.

Peter McDougall is hoping to have some trees planted on his property in Wheatley River, P.E.I.

Peter McDougall is hoping to have some trees planted on his property in Wheatley River, P.E.I.

Peter McDougall has applied to the P.E.I. tree program and is hoping to have some trees planted on his property in Wheatley River, P.E.I. (Rob LeClair/CBC)

"Ultimately, I guess this is about doing something for your grandchildren and trying to improve, minimize our carbon footprint, and increase the amount of good things that are happening in the environment."

McDougall is also a member of the Wheatley River Watershed Group, so he has a good handle on what's at stake.

"I'm really excited about the work that they're going to be able to do here on our property: a whole range of trees that'll be sited and chosen particularly because of the environment," he said.

"You can't beat free — and having somebody else do the labour, right?"

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