Rigorous implementation plan needed to ensure initiative’s success
VANCOUVER — The federal initiative to plant two billion trees over the next 10 years is a positive step toward integrating nature into Canada’s climate plan and helping restore biodiversity. While the recent federal announcement provides valuable program details, planting trees alone will not guarantee the initiative’s success, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. Clear objectives and rigorous implementation standards will be required to achieve the desired climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity restoration outcomes.
“Government’s commitment to nature-based climate solutions like planting two billion trees is an important step forward,” David Suzuki Foundation director general for Western Canada Jay Ritchlin said. “With clear objectives, implementation and monitoring, this initiative can benefit nature, climate and human health. We depend on nature for basics of life like water, air and a stable climate. Planting trees will help support the health and resilience of Canada’s ecosystems and communities.”
To have the desired effect, the 2 Billion Trees program must maximize the combined biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation benefits of the planted trees. It should also recognize and account for the numerous co-benefits to people and communities. Protecting existing ecosystems and ensuring that the planted trees effectively and permanently lock away carbon are key concerns.
“We look forward to these trees becoming a permanent addition to Canada’s urban and rural forest cover and we welcome this program’s integration into a strong federal climate plan,” Ritchlin said. “The path to net-zero carbon emissions requires real reductions to greenhouse gas emissions at their source. Natural sequestration and potential offsets through protecting and rehabilitating nature are essential, but should not be expected to account for more than a small percentage of the additional carbon emissions reductions needed to meet our targets.”
The commitment to an advisory body is important and can support a rigorous, science-based implementation plan to meet these expectations. “With our network of community partners and scientists, we are already working to ensure that nature is protected, restored and reintegrated into the way we live our lives,” Ritchlin said. “This program can help; we just need to get it right.”
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