Climate Action Momentum is Building

The world could use some positivity and hopeful signals about what the future holds for people and planet Earth.

It is beyond time to make meaningful, far-reaching, transformational change at every level on behalf of ourselves, young people and for the generations to come.

As Canada’s Throne Speech stated on September 23rd, “This is our generation’s crossroads.”

We could not agree more.

Gatineau, Quebec Fall Trees Photo Credit Alexandra

First, we want to highlight some related positive news reported at the international and local levels, before focusing on pieces from Canada’s Throne Speech. All combined, we feel that these are the kinds of necessary positive signals at all levels (international, national, local) that give rise to our cautious optimism that, indeed, momentum is building for our generation to choose the path toward a more sustainable future.

Let’s start with some local good news, from Sudbury.

CEEP – Community Energy and Emissions Plan

CBC reports that on September 23rd (National Tree Day), Sudbury city council unanimously approved its CEEP (Community Energy and Emissions Plan).

The CEEP “will guide the city toward its goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

“The commitment means that by 2050, the city would produce no more greenhouse gas emissions than it is able to offset through other measures, such as reforestation.”

What this will look like in terms of the city’s actions and priorities for the coming decades includes “…significantly decreasing community water use, retrofitting buildings, electrifying the city’s bus fleet and increasing reforestation efforts.”

To echo the Throne Speech theme of “our generation’s crossroads,” Sudbury Councillor Geoff McCausland says, “This is the most important thing, dealing with climate change, that we will likely deal with in our entire lifetimes.” Full CBC article at:

Jasper, Alberta Fall Trees Photo Credit Lucy

Significant International Signal

Last week’s climate change news also included a major announcement from China, which is a highly impactful development toward reaching the global target and commitments to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and keep rising global temperatures below 2C. All the more important, given China’s current status as the world’s top emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.

China Commits to Carbon Neutrality by 2060

On September 22nd, China’s President Xi Jinping made a video address to the UN General Assembly announcing two major goals and commitments on climate change. The country now aims to peak its carbon emissions before 2030, and to become “net zero” by 2060.

As the Economist reports, “In climate-change jargon, this means achieving a balance between carbon emissions and carbon reduction both technological and natural, such as planting trees. For China to succeed, it must descend from its emissions peak far more rapidly than any other major economy has either succeeded in doing, or has pledged to do. It will be a huge challenge.” [For the full Economist article:]

We learned much from this informative CBC article on China’s announcement:

The positive benefits associated with China moving up its timeline to peak emissions before 2030 are explained in the article by MIT’s management professor John Sterman.

“Carbon dioxide’s more than 100-year lifetime in the air makes earlier emission cuts more effective than promises in the future, he said.”

“Emissions that don’t happen between now and 2030 are going to reduce warming a lot more than the same emission reductions after 2060.”

The CBC article also noted that with this announcement, China joins 29 countries (including Canada) that have pledged to reach net-zero emissions under the 2015 Paris Accord, with many other major emitters such as the European Union on earlier timelines of 2050 to meet their goals.

Algonquin Park, Ontario, Fall Trees by MaryAnn

A few things from this article have contributed to our sense that momentum is building and that there is evidence for cautious optimism about the future.

One, is this fact statement – “With China, the 30 countries that have some kind of carbon neutrality pledges, account for about 43 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.” That’s close to half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions now being targetted.

The second are the messages cited from prominent international leaders that show us that, at least in words, there is emerging alignment on policy stances that approach the pandemic recovery plan and action on the climate crisis as one inter-related challenge, rather than an either-or choice about where to set national investment priorities.

“Calling for a ‘green revolution,’ Xi said the coronavirus pandemic had shown the need to preserve the environment.”

” ‘Humankind can no longer afford to ignore the repeated warnings of nature,’ he said.”

“Frans Timmermans, who leads the EU executive’s efforts on climate change, welcomed Xi’s announcement.”

” ‘We need decisive action from every country to keep temperatures under control, tackle climate change and keep our planet inhabitable,’ he said.”

[For the full CBC article, and to learn which of the largest polluting countries have yet to make carbon neutrality pledges:]

Edmonton Fall Photo Credit Lucy


Last week we shared positive (leaked) news that Canada will become an e-vehicle player as a result of $500M in federal and provincial investments in support of Ford auto’s announced plans to invest $1.98B and re-tool its Oakville Ontario plant to produce five electric vehicles. According to this CBC article, Ford plans to start rolling electric vehicles off the line at the Oakville plant beginning in 2025, and with potential for new jobs at the Windsor plant too for engine production.

Progress on getting more clean energy e-vehicles made here and  onto the roads in Canada is good news.

Adam Radwanski underscores the positives, writing, “Suddenly, Canada has a foothold in one of the world’s fastest-growing and most pivotal clean-technology sectors…..The Ford announcement could one day stand as the moment that kicked all these discussions into high gear. One of the Detroit Three making EVs in Canada will be impetus to develop other parts of the supply chain, which could lure other EV-making giants, and so on.” [Globe and Mail article:]

Hopefully more choice and access to competitively-priced e-vehicles for consumers will lead to greater uptake here in Canada, with adoption being accelerated by the related infrastructure investments that were announced in last week’s Speech from the Throne.

Fall Trees Jasper, Alberta, photo credit Lucy

September 23 Throne Speech

The Throne Speech acknowledged the prime focus on addressing the pandemic, while at the same time looking to the future. Its theme is “Building a Stronger and More Resilient Canada,” framed around the four foundations of:

a) fighting the pandemic and saving lives;

b) supporting people and businesses through this crisis as long as it lasts, whatever it takes. Effectively dealing with the health crisis is the best thing we can do for the economy;

c) building back better to create a stronger, more resilient Canada; and,

d) standing up for who we are as Canadians.

Highlights below related to climate change are taken directly from the Throne Speech:

“To keep building strong communities, over the next two years the Government will also invest in all types of infrastructure, including public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband, and affordable housing, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities.”

“Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country.”

Autumn Trees Edmonton, Photo Credit Lucy

“This is where the world is going. Global consumers and investors are demanding and rewarding climate action.”

“Canadians have the determination and ingenuity to rise to this challenge and global market opportunity.”

“We can create good jobs today and a globally competitive economy not just next year, but in 2030, 2040, and beyond.”

“Canadians also know climate change threatens our health, way of life, and planet. They want climate action now, and that is what the Government will continue to deliver.”

The Government will immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal. The Government will also legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“As part of its plan, the Government will:

  • Create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
  • Invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires, to make communities safer and more resilient;
  • Help deliver more transit and active transit options;
  • And make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country.”

“A good example of adapting to a carbon-neutral future is building zero-emissions vehicles and batteries. Canada has the resources – from nickel to copper – needed for these clean technologies. This – combined with Canadian expertise – is Canada’s competitive edge.”

Edmonton Alberta Fall Colors, Photo Credit Lucy

“The Government will launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies to create jobs and make Canada a world leader in clean technology. The Government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies.”

“Additionally, the Government will:

  • Transform how we power our economy and communities by moving forward with the Clean Power Fund, including with projects like the Atlantic Loop that will connect surplus clean power to regions transitioning away from coal;
  • And support investments in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions.”

“Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.”

“The Government will:

  • Support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net zero future, creating good-paying and long-lasting jobs;
  • And recognize farmers, foresters, and ranchers as key partners in the fight against climate change, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions and build resilience.
  • The Government will continue its policy of putting a price on pollution, while putting that money back in the pockets of Canadians. It cannot be free to pollute.
  • This pandemic has reminded Canadians of the importance of nature. The Government will work with municipalities as part of a new commitment to expand urban parks, so that everyone has access to green space. This will be done while protecting a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of Canada’s oceans in five years, and using nature-based solutions to fight climate change, including by planting two billion trees.
  • The Government will ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled. And the Government will also modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
  • When the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was closed by a previous government, Canada lost an important tool to manage its waters. The Government will create a new Canada Water Agency to keep our water safe, clean, and well-managed. The Government will also identify opportunities to build more resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.
  • At the same time, the Government will look at continuing to grow Canada’s ocean economy to create opportunities for fishers and coastal communities, while advancing reconciliation and conservation objectives. Investing in the Blue Economy will help Canada prosper.”
Fall Colors in Alberta, Photo Credit Jim

For the full text of the Throne Speech to open the second session of the 43rd Parliament on September 23, 2020:

Last Words Go to the Trees, Nature and Hope

The Throne Speech re-affirms the government’s commitment to plant two billion trees as part of its climate action plan.

We end today’s blog post with this Nature imagery on resiliency and hope, taken from the opening section of the Throne Speech:

“Like a reed in high winds, we might sway but we will not break. Because our roots are firmly in place, our goals clear, and because we have hope – the hope that lifts the soul on dark days and keeps us focused on the future.”

“Canadians have lived through uncertain times before and have always prevailed because determination, concern for others, courage, and common sense define our nation.”

“We must bring all those qualities to bear once again and continue to work for the common good, and for a better, safer, and more just society.”

“This is who we are and what will see us through to brighter days.”

Hope Matters

Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think is Critical to Solving the Environmental Crisis, published recently by environmental scholar Elin Kelsey.

Judith Pereira writes in the Globe and Mail about how Kelsey’s new evidence-based book aims to “shift the narrative on climate change.” Full article:

GoodReads review:

We All Make A Difference

” ‘If you’re thinking of being a small fish in a very large global problem, I think it’s helpful to think about it this way: everyone’s actions are required,’ [Sudbury’s] Grant said.”

” ‘If we don’t do our part, we will fail. Everyone needs to do their part, big and small.’ “

Bobcaygeon, Ontario Fall Trees by MaryAnn

National Tree Day in Canada

Also National Foresters Week

Also Global Day of Climate Action-Friday September 25

Today, Wednesday September 23, 2020 is National Tree Day in Canada. It falls on the Wednesday each year during Forester’s Week. The Govener-General will also deliver a speech from the Throne. One very good news story already leaked is that the Federal Government and Ontario government are providing financial supportof $500M to retrofit Oakville’s Ford plant to build 5 types of electric vehicles to be ready for sale in 2025. More information on this in next week’s blog.

According to the coordinating organization, Tree Canada, “National Tree Day serves as a celebration for all Canadians to appreciate the great benefits that trees provide us – clean air, wildlife habitat, reducing energy demand and connecting with nature. While in years past this was a time to come together and celebrate with community planting events, our current situation with COVID-19 makes this year very different. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate together though, while staying apart! The spirit of National Tree Day and all that trees bring to us is still worth celebrating.”

History of National Tree Day

On March 2, 2011 a private member’s motion to declare the Wednesday of National Forest Week, National Tree Day, received consent from the House of Commons. The motion was presented by Royal Galipeau, M.P., at the urging of Tree Canada.

Events for 2020

There are resource ideas available on the Tree Canada site for planning an event. Here are events taking place across the country that we found posted online:

Saanich, B.C. : Saanich Parks has 100 free trees to give away between 10 am and 1 pm as part of their “Nature Intelligence Campaign”. Tree pick up is by registration only and recipients are encouraged to send in a photo of themselves with their newly planted tree.

London, Ontario: As part of their “Reforest London” campaign and the “Million Tree Challenge“, between 9 am and 8 pm a limited number of trees will be available for free on a first come first serve basis, and there are many species of trees to choose from in 2-5 gallon pots. Delivery is available as well.

Port Coquitlan, BC, Mississauga Ontario and Boucherville Quebec: Tree Canada will commemorate National Tree Day by planting ceremonial trees with long-time partners Staples Business Advantage and Telus in these three cities across Canada, emphasizing that it takes many hands to grow better places to live. This will be from 9:30-11:00 am. Go to the Tree Canada site for more information.

E-Gifts: Consider marking the day by sending someone a National Tree Day e-card, for the cost of $20. The funds go to help the Nature Conservancy of Canada protect our country’s natural spaces and the species they sustain, for today, tomorrow and for generations to come.

National Forestry Week 100th Birthday

From Forests Ontario Newsletter “Tree Line” we find out there is a significant birthday to celebrate. “Help Us to Celebrate the 100th birthday of National Forest Week, Sept. 20-26. Healthy Forests, Healthy Future is the theme for the centennial year of National Forest Week. Starting Sunday, Forests Ontario joins their friends to remind all Canadians that healthy trees make healthy forests, healthy forests make healthy people, and healthy people make healthy communities.”

Above is an image of the running tab of the Forest Ontario’s tree planting showing CO2 absorbed and oxygen produced. We find this encouraging.

“With your donation to Forests Ontario, you help us to mitigate climate change, provide clean air, clean water, and safeguard valuable habitats. “

“What Do You Know About Forests and Trees? Test Your Smarts With Treevia It’s just about time to twig out with Treevia for National Forest Week. Show us you can’t be stumped as we test your knowledge of poplar culture, histree, and unbeleafable facts. Treevia begins Sep 24, 2020 at noon Eastern Time.” 

The newsletter features 2 women working in the forestry field detailing their education and work opportunities, and you can read more on the topics below.

Help Save Toronto’s Oldest Tree

Many people hold great affection for special trees in their lives for myriad reasons, including those shared so personally and eloquently in September 10th’s post by our guest blogger and friend Liane

Expert gardeners and columnists, Mark and Ben Cullen make the case and invite others to contribute to the cause of helping to save Toronto’s oldest tree — a 250-year-old red oak (Quercus rubra) that stands in northwest Toronto — as a meaningful way to make a difference during this year’s National Tree Day.

Photo by MaryAnn in Ontario

In this Toronto Star article (September 19, 2020), they explain why “this magnificent tree is worth saving for a variety of reasons,” the fund-raising goal and project, conditional deal with the current owner to sell the property to the city, the city’s willingness to convert the site and care for the great oak if the fund-raising target is met by December 12, 2020, the Cullen family’s $100,000 commitment to the project, and the efforts of nine-year old Sophia Maiolo to raise over $2000 to-date to help preserve this special tree. Details on Mark and Ben Cullen’s case for preserving this uniuand how to donate may be found in the full article, (Donations over $20 qualify for a tax receipt, and donors contributing $250+ will receive a red oak seedling.)

Friday September 25, 2020 A Global Day Of Climate Action

CNN posted this information: Several activist groups have designated this Friday as a day of global climate action. Across the world, people will be participating in strikes, school walkouts, acts of service and social media events to bring attention to dire climate change issues. Click on the blue link and find out what you can do to take action.

  • GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE Fridays For Future Canada. The Global Climate Strike on Friday, September 25, 2020, is occurring at a critical moment in history for Canada: On September 23, 2020, Canada’s Governor-General will deliver a speech from the throne. The speech will lay out the government’s long-term plan to recover from the global pandemic. It will also provide an opportunity for a vote on whether the House has confidence in the government. A non-confidence vote could trigger an election at about the same time as the USA election. Start planning your event now so that your Parliamentarians and community know that COVID, the climate emergency, and systemic racism are all linked and the vast majority of us want Canada to #BuildBackBetter and a #JustRecoveryForAll.           

Plant Behaviour

We have learned much in our first season as neophyte vegetable gardeners.

Our experienced gardening friends have been generous in sharing their knowledge, tips and passionate enthusiasm as our guest bloggers this spring and summer, for which we are most appreciative and thankful. We have definitely caught “the bug” and are looking forward with excitement and anticipation to next year’s growing season!

Slowing down and moving to the rhythms of Nature has got us noticing and wondering about plant behaviour.

Turns out this is a contested arena among scientists.

What is plant behaviour? Is it even a valid notion?

In a delightfully informative article by W.C. Liu called, “Plant Behaviour,” the author says, first things first–

“Before digging into plant behaviour, let us define what a plant is. All plants evolved from the eukaryotic cell that acquired a photosynthetic cyanobacterium as an endosymbiont ~ 1.6 billion years ago. This event gave the lineage its defining trait of being a eukaryote that can directly harvest sunlight for energy. The cyanobacteria had been photosynthesizing on their own for a long time already, but this new “plant cell” gave rise to a huge and diverse line of unicellular and multicellular species….”

Liu recommends the Encyclopedia of Earth (EOE) at and the Kew Gardens website at as good websites for exploring the enormity and diversity of the plant kingdom, citing from an article posted on EOE, “that there are more than 400,000 described species, a fraction of the estimated total number.” Helpfully, that EOE article also lays out the major plant groups and their characteristics as follows:

“The major divisions of Plantae are:

  • Anthocerotophyta (Hornworts: Non vascular plants with one chloroplast per thallus cell)
  • Bryophyta (Mosses: Non vascular plants with wiry stems that reproduce by spores)
  • Cycadophyta (Cycads: Non flowering vascular plants with large pinnately compound leaves)
  • Ginkgophyta (Gymnosperm with one extant tree species Ginkgo biloba)
  • Gnetophyta (Woody plants having some angiosperm and some gymnosperm features)
  • Lycopodiophyta (Vascular fern allies without seeds or flowers, having single microphyll leaf veins)
  • Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants that have vascular systems and are seed producing)
  • Marchantiophyta (Liverworts: Non vascular plants with one celled rhizoids)
  • Pinophyta (Gymnosperm conifers that have vascular systems and cones, but no flowers)
  • Pteridophyta (Ferns: Vascular plants lacking flowers and seeds, reproducing by spores)”

“Several groups of algae are under debate as to whether they should be included in Plantae; however, we will follow a definition of plants that excludes algae. Green plants, often termed Viridiplantae, derive the majority of their energy from sunlight via photosynthesis and are a subset of Plantae.” For the full Creative Commons licensed article on Plants by the Encyclopedia of Earth, go to:

Citation Plant. (2019, September 13). The Encyclopedia of Earth, . Retrieved 14:18, September 6, 2020 from

Classification systems of any kind are often challenging, and sometimes challenged.  Remember the ruccus when Pluto suddenly lost its status as a planet? So, too in plant world, apparently algae is ‘out’ as a member of the plant kingdom, at least for now.

Debates over plant “behaviour” are even more controversial, which Liu helps to orient us to –

“Plants do respond to changes in their environment, but is it fruitful or scientifically valid to say that they have behavior? They lack muscles and nerves, do not have mouths or digestive systems and are often literally rooted in place. A growing number of plant biologists have embraced the term behavior, as demonstrated by the journal devoted to the subject, Plant Behavior. Their resources page ( is a good place to get oriented to the field.”

One of the links in Liu’s article took us to the Plants in Motion website at  

Plants in Motion

“Although our lives depend on plants for virtually everything that keeps us alive (oxygen, food, fibers, lumber, fuel, etc), the lives of plants remain a secret to many people. The reason is simple – plants live on a different time-scale from ours. Compared to the relatively hyperactive activities of humans, plants do not appear to do much but they are actually in constant motion as they develop, respond to enviromental stimuli, search for light and nutrients, avoid predators, exploit neighbors, reproduce, etc.”

Time-lapse photography allows us to see the movements of plants and clearly demonstrates that plants are living organisms capable of some extraordinary things. Time-lapse photography is done by capturing a series of images at intervals ranging from seconds to hours apart. When the images are viewed in rapid succession the effect is to compress into a short period the changes that occurred over a relatively long period of time.”

“The movies on this site show a variety of plants living out their dynamic lives. The movies on this site will hopefully captivate the interest of budding plant biologists but many of them should also be of interest to the seasoned plant biologists. New movies will be added to the site occasionally but making time-lapse movies requires time, patience, and some luck so the rate at which new movies will appear is unpredictable. Hopefully you will enjoy the material that is available now.”

We were mesmerized by the many short videoclips offered, including the one of:

Morning glory vines twining

We end this Blog post by inviting our Readers to witness and wonder at Nature’s life force in the three-minute time-lapse video clip which captures the life of Arabidopsis thaliana. It is introduced below, and may be found by going to the website, and selecting “Orchestrating” under the “Chapters” column, and then pressing play to start the videoclip.


“Gene Activation
Genes control the growth and development of all organisms—plants and people included. Many of the genes found in plants are also found in animals and other life-forms, providing even more insight into the most basic machinery that is required to be “alive.”

“Arguably the most-studied plant in the world is the mouse-eared cress, Arabidopsis thaliana. Its small size and rapid life-cycle (about 50 days) make it ideal for experimental investigation. Arabidopsis was the first plant to have all of its genes sequenced. Individual genes can now be linked with their biochemical functions, providing a road map to understanding plant development across all of plant-kind.”

“The movie, Arabidopsis thaliana: A Life shows a plant playing out its 6-week life from germination, through growth, flowering, and seed formation, to ensuing death. The background of color-coded visual data indicates the activation state of genes during each life stage.”

“The activity of many genes must be finely orchestrated for any individual—plant or human—to successfully grow and develop through all stages of life.”

Plant Behaviour

To access the full article on Plant Behaviour, made available to the public through Creative Commons license and accessible here:

Citation: W.C. Liu. Plant Behavior. (2014 Fall). The American Society for Cell Biology, CBE Life Sciences 13 (3): 363-368. Retrieved 14:18 September 6, 2020 from:

Last Word on Plant Behaviour

We conclude the plant behaviour debate (at least in this post) with these words from the sLowlife project, presented in The Herald (September 20, 2012) on the opening of the exhibit at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont. (

“Many of us think of and treat plants as inanimate objects. However, a plant grows, reacts to changes in its environment, reproduces, responds to disease and injury, and undergoes a slow decline into old age and death—a saga that sounds hauntingly familiar. Contrary to our conscious perception, plants do move—be it ever so slowly.”

“By turning time on its head, the creators of ‘sLowlife’ have given us a whole new way to look at plants, their activities, their movement, and their lives.”

“sLowlife” is an exciting exhibition that uses science, art, and technology to provide alternative dimensions for experiencing plants. It presents unusual and sometimes unnerving perspectives on how a plant reacts, both short-term and long-term, to its inner and outer worlds.” 


Save the Date!

This year National Tree Day is next week on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Canada. Check online for possible events in your community, and we will blog about National Tree Day next week.

I Shall Never See a Poem As Lovely as a Tree

(We welcome guest blogger, journalist Liane Faulder and thank her for adding such a thoughtful personal story to our tree blog. Here it is……)

I think that I shall never see, a post as lovely as a tree. 

Though I’ve taken a liberty with the famous poem by American writer Joyce Kilmer, his point remains as sharp and true today as it was in 1914. 

A tree brings countless blessings to the natural environment, and while a tree is nothing short of perfect, all by itself — defying the common metaphor of a blog post — there is something about the tree that compels us to keep trying to describe what it means.

I remember a very special tree. It was located out front of McDougall United Church, in downtown Edmonton, and it greeted me as I crossed the street daily for some 25 years, passing the church to get to my reporting job at the Edmonton Journal. It was a crab apple, a huge, gnarled creature that nestled next to the historic, red brick church and changed extravagantly with the seasons.

In the winter, it was heavy and quiet with snow. Spring saw a burst of pink blossoms, and in summer, the crab apple tree provided leafy shade as I waited on the corner for the stoplight to change. Come fall, it felt wistful to me, because something was ending. 

I tried to talk my husband, who was a professional photographer, into documenting the seasons of the tree for me, but he just looked at me as if I was mad. When the church underwent extensive renovations in 2016, the tree was chopped down. I felt hollow in my belly for months afterwards every time I crossed the street.

Another memorable tree came to be in the tiny backyard of a duplex I once lived in with my boys, starting when they were about three and five years old. I remember having $150 to spend on yard improvements one spring season, and I struggled to decide between putting a tree into the barren space, and buying a patio set. 

Thankfully, I picked the tree, a delicious Schubert Chokecherry that produced green leaves and sprigs of tiny white flowers in spring, and then turned a rich, deep burgundy as the season progressed. 

When we left that house, it hurt me to leave the Shubert Chokecherry behind, but I managed to transplant my youngest son’s Gr. 1 tree from that modest back yard into the yard of our next home, which provided some comfort.

For all the good that trees do for the environment, and the amount they contribute to sheer beauty, they also carry emotional weight. It comforted me to plant the Schubert Chokecherry at the duplex, to invest in a lasting and meaningful way in the home that I created for the boys and me. The tree would be there long after we were gone, and I liked that. Likewise with the Gr. 1 tree. There is perhaps nothing as solid and satisfying as a sapling no bigger than your index finger that grows strong and tall, content to stay peacefully rooted as its namesake moves out into the world

Liane Faulder with her Algonquin Pillar Pine (photo credit Terry)

Now, in a new home, in a new marriage, a tree once again creates meaning. Though I don’t recall mentioning to my boys, now 32 and 34, that trees hold a special place in my heart, they chose to recognize my 60th birthday by planting an Algonquin Pillar pine in the front yard of our new home.

It has been dug into the north side of the property, near the front window, and I can see it from my living room. The tree frames the yard, just so, and will remind me of the boys, always. It’s hard to describe how much it all means to me — the house, the tree, the marriage, and the children. 

One Trillion Tree Initiative

Photo credit Lucy

Recently we were happy to receive an email from One Tree Planted as they stated their commitment to this commendable cause, the One Trillion Tree Initiative, a cause encouraging the planting of trees, a cause that spurred on this Blog of ours. Here is a summary of this article:

How The 1 Trillion Trees Initiative Can Have a Real Impact on Climate

“Trees are finally getting the international attention they deserve thanks to their potential as a natural climate solution for absorbing carbon, restoring vital ecosystems, and helping humanity adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Reforestation campaigns have been on the rise over the past few years, with everything from cities and countries aiming to break world tree planting records to popular influencers and businesses that want to give back to nature.”

” The latest major development came at the January 2020 session of the World Economic Forum, where the One Trillion Trees Initiative was announced as a means to rapidly increase global reforestation efforts. And we expect this enthusiasm for trees will only grow over the next 10 years because the United Nations has declared 2021-2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Thanks to this declaration, corporations and governments have made commitments to plant, restore, and preserve millions of acres of land around the world.”

Source: Trillion Trees 

“Science has played a part in this global awareness, with hundreds of studies contributing to the global conversation around Climate Change and reforestation. A January 2020 study by James Mulligan et. al of the World Resources Institute touted planting trees as one of the best ways to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

“While it is clear that on its own planting trees won’t save us from Climate Change, it can help tip the scales in our favor as we address other important factors. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it clear that we need to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 by phasing out fossil fuels. After 2050, we need to maintain carbon negativity at least until 2100 to stabilize rising temperatures at 1.5 C. Reforestation, with its enormous potential for global carbon capture, will play an essential role in this effort.”

Source: Balancing the environmental benefits of reforestation in agricultural regions, S.C. Cunningham et. al

Quality Matters to Get the Trees Planted Right

“One Tree Planted wholeheartedly believes that by working together, the global community can accomplish the audacious goal of planting one trillion trees. And here’s how it can be done to ensure that this results in a lasting, positive impact.”

Increasing Scale and Capacity

Source: World Resources Institute 

“Scaling up reforestation may seem simple, but it can be anything but. To scale up requires thoughtful consideration of the capacity, impacts, land uses, and existing infrastructure in the intended area. How long will it take to grow a sizable supply of native seeds? Are there enough nurseries to support thousands of seedlings, or do more need to be built? Will tree-planting organizations be able to recruit and train enough local volunteers to start, plant, and nurture sensitive saplings? Can the local ecology withstand concentrated activity, or will it prove detrimental to sensitive species? Will the project comply with regulations set by local and regional governments? Will it put pressure on existing agricultural operations, potentially leading to increased deforestation and other unintended consequences? Is it designed well, having addressed all of these factors—and any others unique to the region? “

“And finally, does it follow these core Principles for Success?

1. Restoration should enhance and diversify local livelihoods, not threaten them.

2. Afforestation should not replace native ecosystems.

3. Reforestation should promote landscape integrity and biodiversity, not establish monocultures.

4. Projections of Carbon Capture should account for the loss of current vegetation.”

Photo by MaryAnn

Working With Local Communities

“Over the years, we have found that an inclusive approach works best. By collaborating with and involving local stakeholders, we ensure that they play an active role in guiding and implementing projects. In doing this, we are able to mitigate common barriers to success. After all, when the last tree is planted and attention has shifted to other projects, it is the local communities that will decide the fate of millions of trees. Knowing this, we develop strong partnerships everywhere we go. “

Investing in Maintenance and Conservation

Source: Balancing the environmental benefits of reforestation in agricultural regions, S.C. Cunningham et. al

“As important as it is to get trees into the ground, it can be argued that maintaining each plot after planting is even more important. Unfortunately, this crucial part of the process can be forgotten in the rush to hit lofty planting goals. Proper maintenance of sensitive seedlings, especially during the first year, requires dedicated people and solid infrastructure. Close monitoring is necessary to determine regional effects and to adapt to changing conditions. Working with local organizations and stakeholders will ensure that viable, cost-effective inititative.”

The Canopy: Root for Trees Newsletter in Edmonton

Plant Native Species not Ornamental

Here is another email received this month by The Root for Trees program in Edmonton that emphasizes we should “plant native species in areas that are being naturalized, even though other places around the world plant introduced trees because they have desirable benefits—usually faster growing and often as something that will be harvested. A notable benefit of trees is their ability to capture carbon and reduce global warming.

But a recent study in New Zealand found that although introduced species quickly sequester carbon as they grow, upon death non-native plants can actually cause more damage than intended. As they did not evolve in the local environment, non-native plants decompose more readily and release more carbon into the atmosphere than native varieties. 

By planting native plants on your property, you can help cool the planet and make Edmonton a healthy city!”

Right Tree in the Right Place

“Gardeners will tell you that a climate map is a useful tool. It uses temperature, day-length, average frost free days per year, and several other variables to assign zones, indicating where particular plants should survive. For most of the 1900s, Alberta was primarily a Zone 2 edging towards a Zone 3.

Edmonton is currently rated as a Zone 3B. Meaning, plants that previously would not have survived here can now potentially grow!

At the Old Man Creek Nursery, the City of Edmonton’s urban forestry team is testing plants found from other parts of the continent to see if they will live here. Some examples include:”

“Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana) can be found from Nova Scotia to Manitoba.
It is a small deciduous understory tree growing to 18 m tall and 20–50 cm trunk diameter. The leaves turn a bright gold in the fall, and the fruit looks like a hop.”

“Crimson Spire Oak, a trademarked tree with a narrow form and deep red fall colour, this hybrid is extremely tough. It is faster growing than other oaks with dark green foliage throughout the season. It will grow up to 15 m tall and spread about 5 m wide. Upward pointing branches and adaptability are inherited from the English Oak (Quercus robur) parent, while mildew-resistant foliage and red fall colour are inherited from the White Oak (Quercus alba) parent.”

“Fairview Maple (Acer rubrum). Not the leaf of our flag but very similar, this true maple has scarlet red fall leaves. It is characterized by a rounded canopy as it matures – a wonderful source of shade. This moisture-loving tree will get to about 10 m tall and wide.”