The popular Dr Seuss story The Lorax is becoming a sad reality in Ontario. Government of Ontario just cut funding for planting 50 million trees. This comes despite the fact that Ontario loses billions of trees every year.
As part of the Ontario Budget, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said that the 50 Million Tree Program was going to be cancelled. The program was aimed at reducing carbon in the air, preventing erosion, and preserving Ontario forests. Now that has all been eliminated.
That's already bad enough news, but this cut to tree planting is even worse given the fact that Ontario loses billions of trees every single year to harvesting and natural causes.
According to a recent report, published by the MNRF in 2016, there are a number of disturbances that affect Ontario's tree's each year. The report looked at the impacts from 2009 to 2013. They found the average annual amount of forest lost by each disturbance at that time.
For example, on average, 1.1 million hectares of forest is lost to natural weather disturbances every year. An average of 450,000 hectares of forest is lost or damaged by insects and invasive species every year. 180,000 hectares on average are lost to forest fires. Finally, 110,000 are lost to harvesting on average every year.
To put those numbers into perspective, a hectare is equal to 10,000 square feet. This is approximately the size of your average sports arena.
In Ontario, common density for forests is to have 2000 trees per hectare. With the numbers from the most recent forest report, that means that Ontario loses approximately 3.7 billion trees every year.
With unforeseen natural disasters, like the massive forest fires that plagued Ontario last summer, those numbers of trees lost could be even higher.
On top of that, Forest Ontario CEO Rob Keen told CTV that the state of Ontario's forests isn't great right now. According to Keen, in order to be sustainable, Ontario's forest needs 40% cover. He says currently, it is only at 26% cover, on average, and it's even as low as 5% in some places.
Nonetheless, the 50 Million Tree Program has officially been cut. The program previously cost Ontario around $4.7 million every year.