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Column: Lefebvre highlights effort to plant 2 billion trees

‘Our country, our planet, and our kids and grandkids will be better off because of it’
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Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre. (Supplied)

As we know so well here in Sudbury, planting trees is one of the most effective ways to protect our environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. Plain and simple. 

Without our Canadian forests, there is no path to our 2030 Paris climate agreement targets or achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

That’s why over the next 10 years, our government will invest $3.16 billion to plant two billion trees from coast to coast to coast – the largest number committed by a single government in the world. In fact, this plan fulfills a 2019 election promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right here in Sudbury only 18 months ago.

Here’s why we’re doing it:

The increase in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere is one of the main causes of climate change. Trees capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere and store it in their trunks, branches, leaves and roots. That is why trees are such a valuable tool in fighting climate change.

By planting two billion trees, we can eliminate as many as 12 megatonnes (Mt) of carbon emissions from our air.

Trees enhance our communities’ long-term resilience to climate change. Beyond just carbon capture, trees control soil erosion, providing habitats for countless species and support our biodiversity. Forests and trees stop floodwaters from reaching homes. The presence of more trees mitigates the risks of forest fires. They provide shade and cooler air in the summer months, and act as snow fences in the winter to protect fields and roads. Forests are responsible for providing clean drinking water and clean air to the majority of Canadians. 

Of course, in Sudbury we know how to plant trees, and more. Since 1978, more than 3,400 hectares of land have been limed and grassed, and more than 10 million trees have been planted. This effort has not only brought colour and wildlife back to our barren hills, but also returned life to the lakes and rivers that connect them.

Our government’s plan to plant two billion trees is an opportunity to continue nurturing a healthier environment right here in Sudbury, and across the North. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded many of us the value of our green spaces, in communities big and small. Even now, in the dead of winter, I don’t know how my family would cope without Walden or Laurentian trails or Kivi Park, to name just a few critical green spaces.

Our plan, like Sudbury’s regreening program, will need everyone to get behind it. Planting two billion trees will require partnering with families, neighbourhoods, schools, businesses and industries. I’m looking forward to building these relationships. You can learn more about the plans and how to get involved here : https://www.canada.ca/en/campaign/2-billion-trees.html

Canadians take pride in our forests. After all, our national flag is a maple leaf. We are the second biggest country in the world, and over 35% of our land mass is made up of forests. To put that in perspective, that is nearly equal to the size of all three Canadian territories combined - Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. By planting two billion more trees, we’ll be adding enough forest to cover an area three times the size of Greater Sudbury.

For decades to come, generations of Canadians will recognize the importance of this initiative. Our country, our planet, and our kids and grandkids will be better off because of it. 

Paul Lefebvre is Member of Parliament for Sudbury and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.