Greens can see the forest for the trees: the role of tree planting in Mission: Possible

SIDNEY, B.C. — To avoid hitting tipping points that could push human civilization past the point of no return, human society globally faces an immense challenge. Greens acknowledge in the Mission: Possible climate action plan that we have to end our dependence on fossil fuels as quickly as possible.  We recognize that it will not be enough. 

In addition to slashing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, double the current target, we also need to embark on a massive tree planting effort.
As the report published in Science magazine July 5, 2019 made clear, tree planting can make a major dent in pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. The research published in “The global tree restoration potential” identified the possibility that tree planting on over 900 million hectares of forest could store 205 billion tonnes of carbon.

In Canada, planting trees is both a way of reducing carbon, while adapting to impacts we can no longer avoid. Tree planting helps urban areas by creating oases against heat waves and, through careful placement, reducing the demand for air conditioning. 

Tree planting is desperately needed in remote burnt-over areas, very few of which are getting any silviculture at all. The Green Party proposes planting 30,000 hectares a year every year until 2050. The tree species chosen will be ecologically appropriate and selected for adaptation to new climate regimes. Over 30 years, our planting will amount to 10 billion trees.

In the B.C. interior, the high temperature fires of 2017 and 2018 burned off the duff, eliminating any chance of natural regeneration. The standing and fallen dead forest killed by the pine beetle remain as fuel for more fires. Greens propose to get workers back in the forests creating fire breaks with plantings in the breaks, in hopes of slowing down rapidly advancing fires with broad strips of moist trees. 

Protecting old growth is essential in order to protect both habitat and keep the sequestered carbon out of the atmosphere. We know that remote communities are particularly at risk from forest wildfires. We need to conduct risk mapping of Canada and create protections (fire breaks) around settlements to reduce the risk of loss of life. We need to buy more water bombers and deploy them across the country.

“We recognize that forest management is a provincial jurisdiction, but in the context of unmanaged forests – in urban areas and in burnt-over areas and those at risk of burning –  the federal powers of Peace, Order and Good Government must be invoked,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. 

“Recent court decisions related to carbon taxes make clear that the climate crisis is a matter of national concern and as such, the federal government has an important role. As Natural Resources Canada moves away from its role promoting fossil fuels, the Canadian Forest Service must receive new investments, create cutting-edge science and move to massive tree planting. Funding support can be found throughout the federal government in several different departments.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

Rosie Emery
Press Secretary