The federal government has a new partner in its goal to plant two billion trees by 2030 — the Department of National Defence.
In an email to Canada’s National Observer, Defence department media relations confirmed the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA) will participate in the program and has tree-planting plans for most of its locations across Canada over the next seven years.
CFHA runs the department’s residential housing program and delivers other housing support to Canadian Armed Forces members and their families across Canada.
Details about the partnership will be available by the end of March when the ink has dried on a memorandum of understanding between Natural Resources Canada and DND.
The Liberals’ major 2019 campaign promise to plant two billion trees by 2030 to help get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 hinges on cost-sharing with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and businesses.
After coming under fire for a slow start, Natural Resources Canada released its plan to ramp up tree-planting gradually so nurseries can keep pace with the demand. It aims to be planting up to 320 million trees per year from 2027 onwards.
In February 2020, Natural Resources Canada expressed interest in collaborating with the Defence department to meet its tree-planting commitment, according to a briefing note obtained by Canada’s National Observer through a federal access-to-information request.
The briefing note suggests a partnership makes sense because the Defence department owns over 2.1 million hectares of land — making it “one of the federal departments owning and managing the most land.”
It also notes the Defence department manages a National Wildlife Area at Canadian Forces Base Suffield near Medicine Hat, Alta., a nearly 46,000-hectare expanse of grassland that is home to 28 at-risk species.
In an email, the department said CFHA’s tree-planting proposals will be submitted on an annual basis for approval and include specific details for each planting location.
Once approved, proposals will have 50 per cent of planting costs covered by the program — including tree supply, transportation, equipment, and labour — while long-term tree maintenance and the remaining 50 per cent of planting costs will be covered by CFHA.
Other tree program partners include municipalities like Toronto, Brampton and Greater Sudbury, charities including ALUS (which helps farmers build nature-based solutions) and Canadian Trees for Life, the McLeod Lake First Nation, and Groupe Ramo Inc., a Quebec-based company that solves environmental problems using willow trees, among others.