Studies by the David Suzuki Foundation and others have found that people living in areas with many trees, especially large trees, report feeling healthier than people in areas with fewer trees, and that rates of heart condition, cancer, mental health problems, diabetes and other ailments are lower in treed areas. Trees also provide numerous valuable services such as flood control, temperature regulation, air filtering, carbon dioxide reduction, storm protection and habitat for wildlife.
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Recognition of the immense value of trees led to all-party, unanimous support in the Ontario legislature on October 22 for a resolution introduced by Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott to plant tens of millions of trees across Ontario.
Arnott's proposal is to plant 150 million trees beginning in 2017 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Ontario's entry into Confederation with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Québec in 1867.
The plan is based on a successful campaign in Wellington County, Ontario, where local residents have planted over 150,000 trees each year since 2004.
The Wellington County Green Legacy Program is now the largest municipal tree-planting program in North America, and Arnott hopes to take the program provincewide.
The David Suzuki Foundation supported the resolution and is happy to see recognition from all parties of the need to grow a green legacy for Ontario with each tree seedling planted.
Thanks to Arnott and his colleagues in the Ontario Legislature for coming together across party benches to protect the environment.
The following is a statement that the David Suzuki Foundation offered in support of the resolution.
Statement by Faisal Moola, PhD
Director General, Ontario and Northern Canada,
David Suzuki Foundation
Adjunct Professor of Forestry, University of Toronto
The David Suzuki Foundation supports the resolution by the Hon. Ted Arnott, the Member for Wellington-Halton Hills, that the Province of Ontario commit to a major tree-planting initiative in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Ontario's entry into Confederation.
Although we don't often give it much thought, urban parks, woodlots and managed forests in and around our communities benefit us all immensely. Trees clean our air and filter our drinking water. Forests remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby helping us to fight climate change and green urban spaces cool our cities and protect us from storms. And this doesn't even account for the health and psychological benefits we receive when we spend time outdoors going for a walk or sitting down for picnic with our families in a beautiful park.
Forests are the life-support systems of our families and our communities. They keep us healthy and happy and bring immense value to our lives — providing clean air, safe water to drink and healthy food to eat from the animals that are sustainably harvested by First Nations and non-Aboriginal hunters.
We strongly support a renewed commitment by the Province of Ontario to plant millions of trees across the province. The Ministry of Natural Resources, working with First Nations, municipalities, school boards, community organizations, the business community, the forestry industry and volunteers, should lead this initiative. The David Suzuki Foundation looks forward to partnering with like-minded organizations to help make this vision a reality.