It is always a good time to plan to plant trees under Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program. Forests Ontario will connect you with a planting partner who will visit your property. They’ll work with you to choose the right trees for your site. 

There are four main types of planting:

AFFORESTATION – How productive is a farm field, planted in crops? In some marginal fields, cleared generations ago for agriculture, the soil is poor, rocky, or dry, meaning that the cost of fertilizer, seed, fuel and time can add up to more than you earn from the crops. In these conditions, it is often best to convert this land back to forest. Foresters call this afforestation – planting trees on a large scale where there have been none for a long time. You can plant a large new forest on your property with a variety of native species. The planting partner that Forests Ontario sends your way will ensure the right trees go in the right places to maximize their odds of survival.

Afforestation is a way of ‘jump starting’ a new forest. You could, of course, just leave the field alone to return to forest on its own, but this comes with potential issues. Invasive species, such as Buckthorn and Dog-Strangling Vine, can establish over time. Also, you may have to wait quite a while. A well-established grass field can maintain itself for several decades before any trees show up. To jumpstart the process, plant trees where and when you want them.

Some landowners get tired of mowing lawns every year. With increasing drought, who wants to look at brown, dry grass? Plant trees instead to avoid this problem. A forest is less work than a lawn and provides incredible biodiversity to your property. Increasing shade around your house will lower your cooling bills in summer. Plus, you can leave a forest legacy for your family. As another added bonus, planting a forest could save money on your taxes under the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program. If your total forested area is above four hectares, you can save 75 per cent or more in property taxes on your forested property.

RIPARIAN BUFFER – You may have a pond, a creek, or a wetland on your property. When you mow right to the edge of the water, and a heavy rainfall comes, it sends sediment into the water. This decreases the depth of water, causing

warming and algae blooms which hurt fish and impacts wildlife living nearby.

Creeks, ponds and streams need buffers of trees and plants that stabilize their banks, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, and keep their water cool. Riparian buffers minimize the runoff into creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes or wetlands. The trees also provide a home for wildlife that thrive near the water, from ducks to dragonflies. Wider buffers support more wildlife.

WINDBREAK – Windbreaks have many uses. Rows of trees shade livestock, reduce soil erosion, increase privacy, reduce noise from nearby roads, and reduce snow drifting into driveways in the winter. A row of trees can lower your cost for heating in winter and air conditioning in summer. Windbreaks double as wildlife corridors: in agricultural areas where there are not many trees, rows of trees connect fragmented woodlots, helping mammals and birds to move and thrive.

RESTORATION – A forest is like any dynamic and living system: from time to time, it will face illness. Red Pine pocket decline, a disease that attacks the roots, can force a landowner to cut down part of a plantation. White Pine Weevil and White Pine Blister Rust are other pathogens that strike the forest. How should you respond to these illnesses reducing your forest cover? Our planting partners can help you restore the lost trees. You may have a woodlot dominated by ash, and then devastated by the Emerald Ash Borer. Cut the ash for firewood, then replant for the future.

Perhaps your forest has been afflicted by a natural disaster like ice storms or downburst? You can restore the forest with underplanting, bringing up a new generation under the trees that got damaged. Some people don’t thin their plantation soon enough and end up with little diversity. You can incorporate some restoration planting in a thinned plantation as well to ensure a healthy forest stand into the future.

For more information on Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program please visit www.forestsontario.ca

SOURCE: FORESTS ONTARIO