Your congregation can contribute to your local community and the climate by planting native trees on your personal or place of worship property, or by participating in local community tree-planting events.
Many regions have local initiatives for tree-planting.
Here are a few programs we have heard about:
The Trees Ontario 50 Million Trees Program subsidizes about 80% of the cost of tree-planting on private land. The funding comes through the Ministry of Natural Resources as the Ontario provincial government honours its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. There is secure funding for the next five years and the program is intended to plant about 3 million trees per year until 2025. Landowners must have at least 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of plantable open land and commit to look after the trees for 15 years. The minimum cost is 15 cents per tree or $120 per acre, although this price varies with tree species and with the agency doing the actual planting. (For comparison, the cost of tree seedlings alone would be nearly $400 per acre). The delivery agent does the paperwork, buys the seedlings, plants the trees, controls vegetation, does 3 check-ups. Thanks to Eleanor Reed, Registered Professional Forester, Lands & Forests Consulting for this information.
Toronto’s LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests) program offers a subsidized backyard tree-planting service and information on native tree species; they have lists of native trees available and also offer special events relating to tree planting.
The Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation works with local groups to enhance public green space.
The Canon Take Root program funds up to $5000 for community-based stewardship and restoration activities that include the planting of native tree and shrub species.
ReForest London has a Million Tree Challenge and also offers tree sales as gifts and vouchers.
Tree Ottawa asks you to plant, protect, and promote urban trees.
Many municipalities offer funding for urban tree-planting and canopy protection.
Ottawa’s Hidden Harvest encourages the planting and harvesting of urban food-bearing trees. On the planting side, those with land are able to purchase trees for planting, and those without land are able to donate trees for planting in schools, community spaces, and housing projects. The group is also locating fruit- and nut-bearing trees and getting permission for volunteer harvesters to collect and process the food, sharing it amongst the land-owners, volunteers, and community food banks. They also teach workshops on harvesting and processing fruit and nuts.
Toronto (Not Far From The Tree)
Vancouver (Vancouver Fruit Tree Project Society).
Above Right: members of Ottawa Bethany Baptist Church’s Greening Group fundraise to send children to Country Fun Nature Camp – an eco-ecumenical camp – by selling pies with fruit and berries picked on the church’s property.
Inspiration: Tree planting day at Forest Brook Community Church
Forest Brook Community Church held a native species tree planting day at their property in Ajax, Ontario in May of 2013.
Dozens of volunteers, from senior citizens to high school students, gathered with shovels and garden gloves to plant more than 20 trees, 30 shrubs, and many herbaceous plants on grassy patches throughout the church grounds.
All plants were native species found naturally in undisturbed Southern Ontario forests, like Sugar Maples, White Spruces, Dogwoods, Basswoods, Oaks, Serviceberries, Purple Flowering Raspberries, and Bush Honeysuckles. Located in the Duffins Creek watershed near Lake Ontario, the effort will help improve the property’s ecosystem value and carbon sequestration over the long term, and, one might argue, enhance aesthetics. Some invasive species, such as Dog-Strangling Vine, were also eliminated as much as possible, and dead Ash trees were also cut. The Ash trees, common on church property, are under imminent threat from the Emerald Ash Borer (a deadly insect predator) in the next 5-10 years, and planting now will help to establish larger trees as the Ashes decline and die.
So why would a church bother with such an event? Motivations can always be varied, but perhaps most fundamentally it was viewed by most participants and the church leadership as a means of helping to bring the reign of God more fully on earth, as taught by Jesus. It was also outlined as a form of healing, which Jesus so fully embodied.
Though some plants have died, most have done well throughout the Spring and Summer, due mainly to cool, rainy weather and specific effort by church members to water plants during the hottest and driest spells. There aren’t yet plans for further planting, but the potential certainly exists for similar days in the coming years, especially if outside funding can be secured.
The event was held in partnership with Urban Forest Associates and the estate of William M. Karney (a late church member). Special thanks to the Town of Ajax for the free provision of mulch, and the Forest Brook leadership and elders for ongoing support!
– article and photos courtesy of Alex Karney