A study published last month in the journal Science said the best way to fight climate change is to plant at least a trillion trees worldwide. Some countries have undertaken ambitious goals — Ethiopia, for example, is aiming to plant four billion by October.
If you’ve been wanting to help in this worldwide effort, but aren’t sure where to start, here are some pointers.
You have a yard. Now what?
You need to know what kind of soil you have — it might contain a lot of clay, or sand or silt, for example. You also need to figure out what tree will grow best and how to care for it.
There are groups and organizations that will do that crucial legwork for you. Trees Winnipeg, for example, has a program that will match homeowners with the best tree for their yard, and even supply everything they’ll need to get it off to a healthy start. There’s also the non-profit organization LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests), which works in and around Toronto.
Janet McKay, executive director of LEAF, said you can usually get a tree in just a few months, for about $200. That includes a 1.5- to two-metre deciduous tree and “a consultation with one of our arborists in the yard, which is the part that people really love,” McKay said. They’ll pick up the tree, bring it to your home and even do the digging.
What if you don’t have a yard?
Just because you live on the 24th floor, with no outdoor space, doesn’t mean you have to miss out. If your property manager or building owner is on board, you, too, can plant a tree.
LEAF can consult in this scenario, too. McKay said the key with multi-unit dwellings is knowing where underground parking and utility lines are. But it’s not just about finding the best spot for the tree.
“We do ask [people] to have a tree care plan for us so that we know that the trees are going to be cared for,” she said. LEAF recommends that for the first two to three years after planting, the trees are watered about twice a week, each time “with three watering can–sized buckets full.”
Can I make a donation so someone else can plant trees?
Absolutely. Tree Canada can help you do that. It’s a registered charity that has been boosting the country’s urban forests for more than 25 years.
For as little as $4, Canadians can pick a region — from B.C. to Atlantic Canada to the North — and even the approximate placement of a donated tree.
“We are one of the few sites that actually allow people to see where the trees get planted,” said Cristiane Doherty, communications and marketing manager for Tree Canada. Once the site is chosen and the sapling has been planted, Tree Canada reports back to you. During the first five years, Tree Canada checks up on new trees to see how they’re doing, and posts the survival rates on their website.
Still … a trillion trees?
It all adds up. Tree Canada plants between 300,00 and 400,000 trees a year. LEAF, which has a more local mandate, plants 3,000 to 4,000.
“There is a lot of good that can be done, even with planting one tree or taking care of one tree,” Doherty said. “When you plant, you’re planning for tomorrow, and for the next generation.” SOURCE