Essex plans to be even greener
By Kaitlynn Kenney
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is aiming to cover 12 per cent of natural land in Essex County with greenery.
ERCA, along with Forests Ontario, share a goal of restoring Ontario’s natural land and watershed to stop global warming.
ERCA has restored 8.5 per cent of natural areas in Essex County with 5.8 per cent being forest. Both work together in support of the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program, allowing landowners with around 10 acres of forested lands to pay 25 per cent of the municipal tax rate set for residential properties.
Forester and Managed Forest Plan Approver Robert Davies said landowners who want to restore forest habitat in watersheds of an acre or greater with 500 trees or more are offered 75 – 90 per cent grants towards planting and warranty of these trees.
ERCA plants a mixture of native tree species and shrubs provided by multiple partner nurseries and plants them throughout April and May.
“Landowners interested contact us with their interests and we conduct on site visits to discuss planting goals, objectives and plans,” said Davies. “An acre to 4.9 acres are eligible for 75 per cent grants while projects greater than 5 acres are eligible for 90 per cent grants.”
Davies says the MFTIP works well in Essex County, but he wants it to be more available for people with smaller forests.
“Currently landowners cannot apply unless they have 10 acres of forest or more,” said Davies. “We would like to see this number reduced so that more landowners can benefit from this program.”
With the 50 Million Trees Program run by Forests Ontario, forestry outreach coordinator Suzanne Perry said landowners with 2.5 acres or more can apply to receive funding support and technical assistance to have trees planted on their property.
Perry said the 50 Million Tree Program is the Ontario Government’s initiative to plant 50 million trees across the province by 2025, and has been running since 2007.
Perry also said the program was inspired by global efforts by the United Nations to plant billions of trees worldwide each year but has been designed with Ontario landowners in mind.
“This program was created to increase forest cover throughout the province as part of the Ontario government’s commitment to fight climate change,” said Perry.
Forests Ontario also hopes to provide opportunities for private landowners to learn about Ontario’s forests and have trees planted on their property, providing resourceful programs to make it more affordable for landowners also involved in the MFTIP.
“I think more and more people are becoming aware of the program and taking part in it, both for the tax incentives and in order to manage their woods sustainability,” said Perry. “We encourage landowners from all areas of the province to take part in the program.”
ERCA hopes to plant 90,000 new trees across the county this year.