There are plenty of reasons for hope, and the city’s regreening effort is a worthy example, world-renowned scientist Dr. Jane Goodall told supporters in Sudbury this afternoon.
Goodall joined Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by planting the program’s 10-millionth tree at Bell Park during a ceremony this afternoon, at which hundreds of people came out to cheer them on.
You can watch a video of today's event below.
The regreening program started 44 years ago, and provides evidence of the resilience of nature if humans give her a chance, Goodall said.
“What better example can you have than what goes on here in Sudbury?” she asked a crowd of hundreds of people who cheered her on. “I talk about your program all over the world as a great example of what could be done when humans help nature to recover.”
Although Goodall spoke virtually during Laurentian University’s UN Garden and Restoration Trail opening last year, she visited Sudbury in-person 20 years ago, which she reflected on during today’s remarks.
“To see the way that the regreening of Sudbury has progressed during those 20 years is absolutely amazing, and I truly congratulate all the people of Sudbury who’ve taken part of and cared about and supported this regreening effort,” she said.
“Once young people understand the problems and how to make a difference, there is no end to their enthusiasm, their commitment and their hard work. I’ve seen it here in Sudbury years ago and today, young people giving up their free time to plant trees, to breed fish to release back, to create the ecosystems in our lakes and our homes.”
Goodall, the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, is in Sudbury filming an IMAX movie called “Jane Goodall’s Reasons for Hope,” which will include a segment on the regreening effort. A crew was on site today to capture footage of the tree-planting ceremony.
This is the scientist’s second film production with Science North, the first being “Jane Goodall’s Wild Chimpanzees,” which was released in 2002.
Joining Goodall in celebrating the 10-millionth tree, Mayor Brian Bigger said that after growing up in New Sudbury during the ’60s, he has seen a remarkable transformation take place.
“It was black rock, dead tree stumps and a desolate landscape,” he said, adding that after a century of mining activity, environmental devastation was widespread.
With the help of various partners, including leaders in the mining industry, things have turned around, but with more work to do.
“Now we’ve reached a major milestone, but this doesn’t mean the work stops,” Bigger said. “We still have over 30,000 hectares of land that remains unrestored, and just imagine what our city will look like in another few decades.”
The regreening program is “proof-positive that each of us can make a difference,” Trudeau said during his remarks.
“Planting trees is not just about planting seedlings, it’s about planting hope, it’s about planting a future. Generations of young people in Sudbury have spent summers planting trees, local leaders come together and our government has been there with funding, too.”
In addition to planting the 10-millionth tree and filming segments for her upcoming IMAX movie, Goodall planted additional trees and released brook trout during her time in Greater Sudbury this morning.
During her remarks, Goodall dug deep into the theme of hope, and issued a call to action for the hundreds of people who came out to cheer her on, including a notable contingent of young people.
“I see our race as at the mouth of a very long, very dark tunnel, and right at the end of that tunnel is a little star shining, and that’s hope,” she told today’s crowd.
“We don’t just sit at the mouth of the tunnel and wait for when that star will come to us, we have to roll up our sleeves, crawl under, climb over, work our way around all of the problems that lie between us and the star. … The people of Sudbury who for 40-plus years have been working very hard to reach that star.”
Although a contingent of approximately 20 anti-Trudeau protesters attended today’s event to heckle speakers, including Goodall, they were far outnumbered by supporters attending in celebration of the regreening effort’s milestone.
“I think there’s been a disconnect between the clever brain and the human heart, between the brain and love and compassion,” Goodall said during her remarks. “I truly think only when head and heart work together that we obtain our true human potential.”
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.