Time to Celebrate Trees

September 25th, 2013

A famous Mark Twain quote goes like this: “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Truer words couldn’t have been quoted.

This week we celebrate National Forest Week in Canada, a week to reflect on the importance of our forests and trees and their importance in our daily lives.

As described by the Canadian Forest Association, National Forest Week was first established in the 1920s as Forest Fire Prevention Week, with the goal of encouraging greater public awareness towards Canada’s forests. Since then National Forest Week, has evolved to encompass the many and varied human and environmental aspects of Canada’s forest resources – past, present and future.

PineForests are among some of our most important natural resources. They provide us with clean air to breathe, valuable wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities all year long. They also ensure employment for thousands of Canadians and are an important driver of our economy.

Only recently have we begun to appreciate the environmental services that trees and forests provide. In most cases trees aren’t valued enough, and remain uncounted in economic statistics. It’s estimated that over a 50-year lifespan of an average mature tree, we reap more than $162,000 in ecological goods and services.  These include oxygen generation, air pollution control, soil erosion and water recycling.

While we think of forests and trees mainly being in rural and remote areas, we also have an important urban forest here in the city. Urban trees play equally important roles as their rural counterparts, while facing many more challenges that threaten their survival on a daily basis.

Studies are starting to show just how valuable our urban trees really are. A study undertaken in Toronto has determined the value of that city’s forest space. Results show this particular urban forest absorbs $31.6 million worth of carbon and would cost approximately $7 billion to replace. The immense value of the urban forest is not unique to Toronto, but shared with municipalities across Canada.

Locally, our urban trees are under increased threat the emerald ash borer. The insect has already been found in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County, so chances are its discovery in this area is immanent. Some of us have already begun taking preventative measures like inoculating ash trees against the borer. For those who have ash trees that may not be suitable for the treatment, preparing for the decline of the trees in the future by planting new trees today is a positive course of action.

It’s fitting that Canadian Forest Week occurs during the first week of fall, as this happens to be one of the best times of year to plant trees. To help facilitate this, and help bolster our urban forest here in Peterborough, the GreenUP Ecology Park is having a one-day sale on October 3rd from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Up for grabs will be many smaller size trees, shrubs, native plants and more, starting from $1.

The sale will be happening at the park, which is located at 1899 Ashburnham Drive, next door to Peterborough Utilities. Delivery of trees is available for a small fee, with all money raised from the sale going to further support the park’s education and school programs.

As we’ve seen, trees really are a resource that is highly valued and under appreciated. If it weren’t for trees, we’d be living very different lives. As we push further into autumn, get out and enjoy some our local trees, or better yet plant one of your own.  Forests are a precious resource that we need to do more to protect for future generations.

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