Holiday Trees and Report Card on Leading Countries

Ever wonder about the origins of the Christmas tree tradition? We were surprised to learn that the use of evergreen trees to symbolize eternal life goes back to ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Hebrews as a custom, while western Germany is credited as the origin of the modern Christmas tree tradition which was set up in homes on December 24th and strung with apples to symbolize a “paradise tree” in celebration of the religious feast of “Adam and Eve”. (For more history on this, click here for the Britannica Encyclopedia site,, and, stay tuned for a special guest blog in February 2020, on the origins and meaning of the Tu B’Shevat Tree Festival in Israel).

Living Christmas Trees:

Have you considered buying a Christmas tree that you could later plant in your yard? Here’s what we have found so far on this option in the Toronto GTA.

Sheridan Nurseries in and around Toronto carries these varieties:

  • 4’-5’ Blue Spruce for $299.
  • chubby  3’-4′ Blue Colorado Spruce for $150
  • 3’-4’ Norwegian Spruce ON SALE for $70.

We did a thorough search and could not find such trees for sale in Edmonton, so let us know if you have seen this available. There are places like LLBean selling table top trees of 18”-24”, and  we have seen those for sale many places.

If a living tree is a new holiday tradition you would like to explore, please review this information on choosing the best tree for your planting location, and caring tips for the survival of these trees. For example,  they should be inside up to 10 days only, and eased outdoors – Please read full care tips at,

Gifting Tree Saplings:

One Tree Planted: 11 Reasons to Gift a Tree

  • 1. It is a unique gift
  • 2. Good for the environment
  • 3. Will last a lifetime 
  • 4. Gives animals a home
  • 5. Cleans the air
  • 6. Benefits future generations   
  • 7.Helps end hunger
  • 8. Keeps people safe
  • 9. Saves money
  • 10. Reduces waste
  • 11. You can’t go wrong.

See our menu section on Tree Planting and Donating and check out TreeCanada ($4- per sappling) and One Tree Planted ($1 USD a sappling), two sites we have used to purchase bulk trees for gifts. We have bought some for a Christmas gift and received a certificate, and the person receiving this gift will also receive a certificate just before Christmas. Tree Canada issues tax receipts. These sites are so great to go through, to get the scope of all the things they are doing. For example, we both plan to buy tree saplings whenever we fly, for more peace of mind as we intentionally begin to offset our carbon footprints.

There are other great sites too. One is Arbor Day, and a Canadian Site: Forest Recovery Canada, an arm of Forests Ontario. They sell trees too. See menu: “Tree Planting and Donating” for more details about these two.

Of course Readers are encouraged to do their own due diligence to feel assured that these or other sites are legitimate non-profits, and are not only planting trees, but choosing the best sites and ensuring the best possible success of the trees. 

We realize that a living tree may not be a good option for everyone. Rest assured that there is good news about the tree benefits of live cut trees that we want to share from this Home Depot site (although not intended as an advertising promotion or endorsement).

Live Cut Trees: Home Depot’s View on the Environmental Benefits

“Live Christmas trees are a renewable resource, with hundreds of thousands of acres dedicated to their growth. Christmas tree farms raise and harvest different varieties of trees, virtually eliminating the harvesting of trees in the wild, which can deplete valuable forests.The average tree takes approximately seven years to reach maturity, and for every tree that is harvested, anywhere from one to three more seedlings are planted. Learn more about the benefits of real versus artificial Christmas trees with our guide.Recycling programs located in most communities turn your used tree into useful mulch. Many Home Depot locations across the country offer Christmas tree recycling free of charge. Call your local Home Depot store to find out if they are participating. In some areas, recycled trees are also being used to create habitats for fish and other aquatic life in local ponds and lakes, as well as helping to slow erosion.”

Eco-Friendly Coffee

Another holiday gift option that is tree friendly is purchasing coffee that is grown under tree canopy. You may find it locally, but we were able to order it online through the Audubon Society. There are various sites selling this coffee. Because the coffee is grown without clear cutting, it has the added benefit of being bird friendly.

The Climate Change Report Card: The Countries that are Reaching the 1.5C Target

Just a few countries get an A grade as they are meeting the target towards their contribution to not exceeding 1.5C in temperature rise overall globally, as written in this 2019 article by National Geographic, at

  • Gambia, Africa: restored 10,000 hectares of forest; gets 1/5 of energy from a  renewable photovoltaic plant
  • Morocco: has  42% renewable energy with solar power fields the size of 3500 football field
  • India: will have 40% renewable energy by 2030 and likely much sooner
  • Costa Rica: has  almost reached 100% renewable energy (2021) and has a moratorium on oil and gas from 2020 until 2050; every two years will replace 5% pf public transport to electric busses and 10% taxis
  • Getting a C Grade:  EU – set target for 32% renewable energy by 2030; inspite of this, the EU is not on track for 1.5 degrees but rather 2 degrees; Sweden – will have  49% renewable  energy by 2030;                    Norway: 60% of new cars are electric and their electricity is 96% renewable; is investing $1 Trillion in renewable stocks and taking out $13 Billion from oil and gas stocks; 60% of new cars are electric and their electricity is 96% renewable
  • Canada does not even get a C grade but rather is scored as “insufficient” because we are going towards >3C.

Personally, we find what countries like Costa Rica or Norway and Sweden are doing on policies such as renewable energy, electric cars and green investments to be promising directions for Canada to consider. Now that a new federal cabinet is in place, with Jonathan Wilkinson appointed as the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Readers may want to consider letting him and/or their elected representative know their views on global warming and climate action. For example, see the Resources menu item for a sample Member of Parliament.

Next week’s blog post will look into Canada’s current Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, as we begin to turn attention to the bigger picture of the international community’s forty-year long commitment, through the United Nations’ Paris Accord, on global warming and climate change. See you next Thursday!

Tree Planting Across Canada and Scientists’ Open Letter on Climate Emergency

We are encouraged by what we are learning about the many tree planting initiatives that are underway in cities across Canada. Here are but a few examples.

Montreal is planting 22,000 trees by the end of this year using a $17M budget to increase their tree canopy from 20% to 25%. With the help of the David Suzuki Foundation, many trees will have a blue tag stating the type of tree, its increasing value over time, its environmental benefits, such as the tree’s CO2 offset, water absorption and energy reduction over a 40-year period, as described in this Global News piece at, Tree Canada partners with the private sector to contribute to Montreal’s tree canopy goals through the Montreal Urban Canopy Project, which you can read more about here,

The same MIT Treepedia ranking list that we cited in last week’s blog post on tree planting in BC, ranks Toronto’s tree canopy achievements at number five, after number one ranked Vancouver, but ahead of NYC, Paris and London, as discussed in this CBC article, at

As the article states, MIT’s Treepedia methodology found that Toronto had 19.5% of land covered in trees, compared with top-ranking Vancouver’s 25.9% coverage. The city’s Live Green Toronto program runs initiatives and offers a number of grants toward its objectives of “engaging residents and businesses in greening our city and protecting our environment,” with accomplishments to-date and links to grant applications provided here,

Toronto’s Tree Planting Strategy is posted here, It states that, “The City is investing in community-led tree planting and stewardship on private land to help reach our 40% tree canopy cover target,” and the site offers ideas for how citizens, businesses and groups may become active contributors toward this 40% target. Toronto residents may want to look into, e.g., the city’s “Neighbourhood Tree Giveaway Program”.

In Edmonton, plans are underway, through the Roots for Trees program (which started in 2012), to build upon the 37,000 trees planted last year, by planting an additional 45,000 trees in 2020, both an increase from the original 16,000 a year plan, and continuing with the city’s program of giving 15,000 trees to school children. We also learned in conversation with the city that all new homes are required to plant two trees in the front yard, which also contributes to growing Edmonton’s tree canopy. So far we have not seen any numbers for tree canopy percent in Edmonton, but because of the river valley Edmonton has the status of having the longest continuous green space in all North America.  Businesses, individuals, and community groups can register, during the first week of March, for a 2020 planting event with Roots for Trees.

Vancouver’s ambitions are to grow its tree canopy by 150,000 trees by 2020, through its Urban Forest Strategy and vision “to protect, plant, and manage trees to create a diverse, resilient, and beautiful urban forest on public and private lands across the city.” Read more at,

We found this site which ranks Canada’s top 10 greenest cities in 2017 (the country’s sesquicentennial). Happily, this list affirms what we believe in our hearts, that Canadians and Canadian cities from coast-to-coast care about the environment and “get it” about the need for climate action and that trees play an important role in carbon sequestering in addition to the aesthetic, health and other ecosystem benefits they offer. The city honour roll goes to Moncton (10), St. John’s, Kelowna, Halifax, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City, and top spot Victoria

That’s the good news on Tree Planting in cities across Canada.

Here’s the news from scientists worldwide about why we need to go broader, deeper, faster and more significantly to mitigate, reduce and avoid for harmful carbon emissions. This sobering piece by Global News reports on why over 11,000 scientists around the world signed an open letter on November 5, 2019, urging all to heed the calls and signs from Planet Earth that humanity and the environment are in a climate emergency that, within our lifetime, threatens our very existence, without urgent climate action now

The open letter was published in the journal Bioscience, and signed by scientists from 153 countries, including 409 scientists from Canada. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva in 1979), these scientists assess unequivocally and in arresting terms with evidence that, in the ensuing 40 years since the initial conference, “…with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament. The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity. Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic ‘hothouse Earth,’ well beyond the control of humans.” 

This sobering open letter concludes with suggestions for “six critical and interrelated steps (in no particular order) that governments, businesses, and the rest of humanity can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change.” The action areas are: Energy, Short-lived Pollutants, Nature, Food, Economy, and Population. While very serious in nature and tone, the Alliance of World Scientists conclude by offering to assist decision-makers, and with this positive concluding view, “…The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual. We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.” Click here to go to the journal of Bioscience website to access the free five-page letter, (select PDF under the article’s citation).

Clearly, tree planting is very important to mitigate the harmful effects of carbon emissions through sequestration. Tree planting alone, however, won’t solve the global warming and climate change threat. We humans also need to do our part to reduce and change our carbon-intensive behaviours and lifestyles. The good news on this part of the challenge is that, just like with tree planting, we are learning that there are many other positive actions available to us on a personal level, even as we engage and advocate concurrently with government and businesses to take much needed climate actions on a wider scope, guided now by the six science-informed action areas set out by the Alliance of World Scientists. Plus, there are many positive leading examples at every level to help accelerate our learning and guide our individual and collective way forward.  Here is what expert Frederick Vroom, Tree Canada has to say to encourage and guide us all on our personal learning journey and climate action plans,

Finally, we are so excited to end this blog by spotlighting the amazing journey of Eden Mills, Ontario, as a shining example of what is possible when a whole community of concerned citizens decides to take personal and collective climate action. Across the past decade, and starting first with one resident’s actions and slowly growing with personal actions of others, Eden Mills is now 75% of the way toward achieving the town’s shared goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral community in Canada. We are delighted to profile this Canadian first and success story, as told in this Macleans article at Oh yes, about those trees — Eden Mills has a population of 350 citizens, and among many impressive actions taken, with the help of outside volunteers, this small community has managed to plant 40,000 trees to-date. Awesome!

We hope you will check back for next Thursday’s blog post where we start to profile some leading countries that are doing their part to meet international commitments on greenhouse gas emissions aimed at limiting overall global warming to 1.5C, as scientists advise. With the holiday season around the corner, we will also share what we have found about “living Christmas tree” and “Gifting tree sapling” options.

Tree Planting in B.C.

Hello and thank you, Readers, for your engagement and enthusiastic support and sharing! We are so appreciative and encouraged.

It is so very exciting and gratifying to hear back that our Readers are curious to learn more – our new Menu item now lists Qs (Questions) from Readers – and that many of you are actively engaged already in tree planting projects for the environment. Thank you. Please keep sharing your stories, news about what you are learning and doing, and any As (Answers) that you are able to contribute toward our shared learning journey.

We would like to devote this Thursday’s blog post to sharing one Reader’s tree story from Victoria, British Columbia.

FEATURE: Wanda’s Japanese Garden:  🙏

Since Canada’s 150th Birthday in 2017 Wanda has taken advantage of the milder coastal climate, zone 8, to create a Japanese garden in her Oak Bay yard. When we asked her where the inspiration for this project came from, this is what she had to say:

“First, I wanted to create a serene space that felt like a sanctuary…..a quiet space to sit and contemplate in peace, with only the birds & pond trickle as sound. Also I wanted a garden that was in its fullest glory in the spring & fall rather than annual summer blooms. The components of a Japanese garden: water, rock, pines, maples and moss are abundant, naturally, as part of the environment of Vancouver Island thus available to purchase at any garden centre (or gravel mart in the case of slate slabs). A pond was already successfully established in the yard thus a water feature with goldfish were just waiting for the other components. I did have to search various garden centres for specific types of Japanese maples however eventually found the varieties I was looking to procure. Now, It is time to learn patience and just let it grow without the temptation of adding more plants…sometimes, less is more.”

With the huge Linden tree as a backdrop, Wanda added the following Japanese maple trees that show these vibrant colours in the autumn:  the red Ribbon-Leaf, the orange Viridi, the red Twilight, the red Osakazuki, the yellow Sangi, thehardy Bloodgood which is purple in summer and blood red in fall, and Sango-kaku or coral bark maple. She also planted the Clancy Japanese White Pine, two Evergreen Magnolias, and Pagoda Dogwood all seen in the lovely photos of Wanda’s serene, colourful sanctuary.

Other exciting tree news from the west coast –  In September 2019 Victoria’s Mayor joined the United Nation’s Trees In Cities Challenge promising to plant 5000 trees on public and private land by the end of 2020. Victoria is the first city in Canada to join the pledge, and join in a global movement of cities that are embracing ‘nature based solutions’ to climate change.

Vancouver is ranked highly using MIT’s Treepedia method of calculating canopy cover in 27 selected cities in its ranking list, as reported in this article on “Green Cities,” in the UK’s The Guardian,

  Thank you for reading – we hope you will check back regularly.

Our focus for next Thursday’s blog post will be on profiling more Tree Planting initiatives underway in other cities across Canada. That’s the good news story. We also will spotlight recent action by scientists calling for greater urgency and action by governments, businesses, organizations and citizens around the world to address what they now call the “climate crisis” that is threatening humanity and the environment. That’s the “much more to do” news story, which we are motivated to keep learning and sharing with our Readers here at Friends4Trees4Life!