Ten reasons to plant trees in 2021
Landowners who plant trees provide many local benefits, according to Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA)
Ausable Bayfield Conservation taking orders for spring tree planting; Landowners continue to plant thousands of trees each year to protect soil, improve crop yields, ecosystem and human health, more
As we begin a new year in 2021, the 75th anniversary year for Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), the ABCA’s Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist, Ian Jean, offers a forestry perspective. “Over the past 75 years, local landowners have planted literally millions of trees,” he said. The result has been a doubling of forest cover since the 1940s.
Forest cover is still too low in some areas, however. Forest cover averages just 14 per cent according to the most recent Ausable Bayfield Watershed Report Card. Tree planting can help.
Order trees now:
“Tree planting, and conserving and enhancing our forests, is essential for sustaining the productivity of our landscape, water quality and a healthy community,” said Jean. “We hear how trees contribute to cleaner air and water and help to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” he said. “Perhaps less well known are the human health benefits that trees and forests provide.”
The ABCA’s Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist offers these 10 reasons to plant trees:
- Clean water: Trees planted along our waterways act as a buffer, filter runoff and improve water quality. Forest lands provide areas for rainfall to collect and infiltrate, replenishing groundwater and releasing water slowly to streams. This improves water quality by mitigating high flows and subsequent erosion and sedimentation that degrade water quality and habitat in our streams.
- Clean air: The process of photosynthesis, by which trees absorb carbon dioxide in their leaves and release oxygen we breathe, also acts to filter out many harmful pollutants from the air. A correlation between more tree cover and a reduction in rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses has been demonstrated for urban and rural areas.
- Soil conservation: Tree windbreaks reduce wind and water erosion of valuable topsoil. Trees planted along field edges can act as berms or dams during high rainfall events, slowing runoff and preventing topsoil erosion. Healthy soils underpin our region’s agricultural productivity, and tree planting can help to conserve this important resource.
- Improved human health: Studies show a positive correlation between trees and human health. Simply looking at trees is beneficial: an element of nature as simple as a window view of trees has shown positive benefits for people in hospitals and nursing homes and other institutions. Even better is spending time literally ‘breathing in’ the forest. Recent studies show pinenes, a compound released by Pine trees and some other plants, has many health benefits. Pinenes are also responsible for the ‘pine tree smell,’ possibly explaining why so many of us like the scent.
- Birds, Bees and Butterflies: Bees use many trees. Maples and Willows are particularly important as an early spring source of nectar. Many butterfly larva feed on tree leaves during their caterpillar or larval stage. Cherry, for example, supports the larva of Tiger Swallowtail, Coral Hairstreak, Striped Hairstreak, Spring Azure, White Admiral, Red Spotted Purple, and Viceroy butterflies. Trees that produce berries or fruit are a food source for birds, as are the insects that live on trees. Oak trees, for example, support more than 500 species of insects. More than 90 per cent of birds feed their babies insects, with trees providing an important part of that supply.
- Healthy wildlife populations: Due to their size, structure, and age trees provide nesting sites, dens and refuges for animals of all sizes. Trees, like all plants, also form the base of food chains. Again, among the most important are Oak trees. In eastern North America more than 100 animals including deer, rabbits, turkey, wood ducks, and even red fox, consume acorns.
- Trees help mitigate and adapt to climate change: The dry weight of a tree is 50 per cent carbon, removed from the air during photosynthesis. Trees absorb and store carbon while living with even longer-term storage in forest soil organic matter. Wood construction products from sustainably managed forests, where trees continue to grow and sequester carbon, also provide long-term carbon storage.
- Trees keep us warm in winter and cool in summer: Well-placed trees shelter buildings, yards and work areas from cold winter winds. In the summer, trees cool the air both by shading effect and transpiration. Transpiration involves trees pulling water from the soil to the leafy canopy. When water vapour is transpired from leaves into the atmosphere, the surrounding air is cooled down.
- Strengthen family and community ties: Plant a tree or plant a forest to celebrate a birth, a milestone, or just the coming of another spring. Incorporate tree planting into your annual spring routine. It’s good exercise, it’s fun, and it benefits us all. If you are unable to plant trees yourself, consider donating to local tree planting programs.
- Leave a lasting local legacy: A well-placed tree or grove of trees will span generations. Sugar Maple, Oaks, and White Pine may live for 300 years while Hemlock and White Cedar sometimes exceed 400 years of age. So goes the saying that, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”
The spring tree order form is available now at abca.ca.
Cost-share funding is available for many projects that provide broader benefits such as field windbreaks, stream buffers and reforestation. Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff work to access funding from government, non-governmental organizations, and industry.
Jean encourages interested landowners to give him a call at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 to find out more. “We are happy to help with project design and access funding for eligible projects,” he said. Funding programs and amounts vary depending on the type of project and the project location.
Ausable Bayfield Conservation thanks grant program funding partners including member municipalities, Huron County Clean Water Project, Forests Ontario, the Government of Canada’s Canada Nature Fund, and the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, along with community donors and other valued funding partners.
PHOTO - MANY GOOD REASONS TO PLANT TREES THIS YEAR: Participating landowners plant tens of thousands of trees, each year, in Ausable Bayfield watersheds. Agricultural producers and other rural landowners have many personal reasons for planting trees – from nature and wildlife enjoyment to best management practices benefits for their operation. The trees also provide many benefits to their watershed community. In this photo, Tallula Ash, a staff member of Ausable Bayfield Conservation, is shown at a local woodlot.