Trees are surprisingly, an increasingly political aspect of Canada’s economy and society. Key Canadian values range from the preservation, sustainability, health; and expansion of our forests have been embroiled in a fierce battle with industry for decades. As Canada moves towards more international climate agreements, one of the concerns raised by government, environmental activists, and business is how to meet challenging target commitments, while not harming the Canadian economy.
Canada’s forests contribute to reaching these climate-related goals. Forests serve as large carbon sinks, and provide a significant positive impact on any country’s carbon footprint. Forests are considered to be a carbon sink as they absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than they release. Photosynthesis is what all plants and trees undergo when they absorb carbon from the air around them. They are important as habitats, elements of biodiversity, and as destinations for outdoor recreational activities. Deforestation and reforestation programs can be viewed as either an inevitable consequence of an economy that relies on our forestry-related industries, or as a successfully managed part of our Canadian landscape.
Decreasing rates of deforestation over the last 25 years, as reported in the Natural Resources of Canada’s ‘State of Canada’s Forests’ report, has helped to preserve existing forests and offset carbon outputs. It’s so important to understand that reforestation is vital to repairing damage already done, and to contributing to the future and sustainability of forestry industries. Whether focussed on the environment or the economy, it is safe to say that tree planting and reforestation are wise and worthwhile practices.
For 45 years Scouts Canada has been a leader in this front through the annual “Scoutrees” program, which first took place in 1972. This program takes place every spring, and continues to draw the dedicated and energetic interest, support, and participation of thousands of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Venturers, Rovers, Scouters, their families and donors. It’s an initiative that spans coast to coast to coast, and is cherished because it exemplifies the Scouting traditions of stewardship, and responsibility for protecting, and preserving the land, and resources we use.
Through Scoutrees, Scouts Canada members have planted more than 80 million trees across Canada. Scouts has significantly contributed to the preservation and reforestation of upwards of between 34,000 and 80,000 hectares of Canada’s forests at a typical tree density of 1000-2500 trees per hectare. If you have a hard time visualising, the BC wildfires of 2017 covered an area of 75,000 hectares by July 2017, an area similar to the size of entire cities such as Vancouver and Toronto.
Scoutrees are planted in conservation areas, Provincial parks, on Crown lands, and at Scout camps, all of which are vital in connecting past, present, and future generations of Canada’s increasingly urban population, with nature and the outdoors. 50 Scoutrees (for a donation of $100) more than offsets the likely carbon footprint of one Canadian’s use of paper, driving and home heating in an entire year.
Trees are key to the health, conservation, and protection of land features. They help prevent soil erosion through wind and water loss, provide effective windbreaks, and improve forest health, highway safety, and agriculture, while providing important habitats for generations of diverse bird and wildlife species, contributing to Canada’s biodiversity. Trees provide shade, beauty and help sustain healthy forests for the enjoyment of future generations.
To learn more about the Scoutrees program, to get involved, or to donate, please visit scouts.ca/scoutrees.
Information used in this article