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County gets Green Legacy recognition at annual Tree Planting Day

by David Meyer

MARDEN - Over 150 volunteers came to the library grounds here on Monday to plant over $3,000 trees.

The county Green Legacy program has seen over one million trees planted since the program began in 2004, and Wellington County has been lauded by the United Nations for its tree planting efforts.

County councillor and planning committee chairman Shawn Watters acted as master of ceremonies for the event, which included a cheque presentation from TD Greenstreets, an environmental cash award through TD Canada Trust.

“One of the great things you can do in life is plant a tree,” Watters told the assembled county employees.

He also got a round of applause when he noted that the program was started by former county councillor Brad Whitcombe, and added “Individuals can have a real big influence in this world.”

Warden Chris White said the county, through the Green Legacy, will plant 157,000 trees this year. He thanked TD Greenstreets for its grant of $15,000 towards the Green Legacy work this year, and Trees Canada for its assistance.

White said environmental experts suggest the county should have 30% tree cover in its rural areas, but it is obvious that farmland is not going to be planted in trees. Therefore, he said, it is important that areas such as the library grounds and the Royal Distributing Centre in Marden can be used for tree planting.

He also noted the Green Legacy is something that the county does and it means the trees and program is affordable. He said Guelph-Eramosa Township, of which he is mayor, could not have afforded to plant all those trees on the grounds, nor afforded the seeds, the equipment, or the manpower to do the job - which can be done using volunteers and the county resources.

“It’s a great bang for the buck,” White said. “This [the Green legacy] is one of the best programs the county runs.”

MP Michael Chong dropped by to offer best wishes, and called the event “a really great project. He said the Green Legacy is “one of the world’s premier tree planting programs,” and other municipalities are constantly contacting Wellington County to learn how they can take the model and create their own programs.

Chong also saluted TD for its environmental work, particularly in the Rouge Valley, in which he is involved.

Chong said that southwestern Ontario is one of the world’s largest clear cut areas in history - larger even than the rainforests of South America. He noted that the entire area was nothing but trees for thousands of years, but pioneers starting around the 1930s, “chopped down every tree in sight.”

 

Chong said in the last 50 years, tree planting has moved the tree cover from zero to 15%, but the goal is double that.

“A project like this is moving us towards that goal.”

Ed Borczon, a Trees Canada community advisor, said that group was established in 1992, and TD Greenstreets came on to help it two years later.

John Pollice, a district vice-president for TD Canada Trust thanked all those who take part in the bank’s Friends of the Environment program, which allows the bank to support environmental causes.

After the cheque presentation, volunteers got to see a demonstration of electro-fishing in Marden Creek.

Wellington County Stewardship Coordinator Larry Halyk told the volunteers that there are brook trout back in the creek after many years, and tree planting, which provides shade and a cool habitat, is responsible for much of that return.

This spring, the county will plant 157,000 trees in Wellington with the help of its local municipalities, schools, conservation authorities, service clubs, organizations and private landowners. The international award winning Green Legacy program is now the largest municipal tree program in North America.

 

 

 

Vol 44 Issue 18

 
 

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