Canada and Alberta Agreement-in-Principle on tree planting


This Agreement-in-Principle (“Agreement“) is entered into this 16th day of January, 2023 between the Government of Canada (hereinafter [Canada]) and the Government of Alberta (hereinafter AB) (collectively hereinafter [the Parties]).

WHEREAS, the Parties acknowledge that climate change and biodiversity loss must be addressed by aggressive and appropriate actions in order to mitigate harmful impacts;

WHEREAS, the Parties recognize that Natural Climate Solutions, such as tree-planting, can significantly contribute to reducing the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss by harnessing the power of nature to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and increase habitat restoration;

WHEREAS, the Parties seek to maximize the benefits that trees and forests can bring by planting the right tree species in the right place to increase biodiversity and forest resilience to climate change; restore wildlife habitat; contribute to human well-being; and reduce the risk of wildland fire and floods to communities; and

WHEREAS, the Parties acknowledge the goal of the 2 Billion Trees (hereinafter 2BT) program to permanently expand Canada’s forest canopy/cover.


THEREFORE, the Parties agree that AB’s participation in the 2BT program will be governed by the following principles:

  1. AB intends to plant trees, directly or through its forest management partners as applicable:
    1. Via afforestation, which involves the creation of new forest canopy/cover on lands that currently do not have trees; and/or
    2. Via reforestation, which involves the rehabilitation of forests that have been damaged by disturbances such as fire, flooding, landslides, storms or insect infestations, or are in areas where commercial disturbances (e.g., forestry roads and landings, mining or seismic lines) have occurred but for which there is no current legal requirement to ensure forest regeneration, including in particular areas where harvesting has been deferred, or silviculturally treated areas where incremental planting of climate resilient trees can increase long-term forest health and biodiversity; and/or
    3. Via the restoration of forest habitat, including under recovery strategies for species at risk, conservation agreements and related planning processes (e.g. range plans).
  2. The Parties intend to secure on-going and long-term climate change mitigation benefits that further secure enduring co-benefits such as biodiversity and human well-being. They intend to:
    1. Apply principles of sustainable forest management, supporting objectives of: biological diversity, ecosystem condition and productivity, soil and water, role in global ecological cycles, economic and social benefits, and society’s responsibility while ensuring the health and diversity of forests and reducing risks of natural disasters such as wildland fire and pests;
    2. Recognize that co-benefits of the 2BT program include, but are not limited to: providing/restoring habitat; contributing to climate change adaptation and community or ecosystem resilience; developing natural infrastructure such as windbreaks or protection for riparian areas; providing urban recreation; helping to cool urban areas; etc.

      Specifically, areas planted with 2BT program resources can also be used to support biodiversity conservation through support to building wildlife crossings and ecological corridors, green infrastructure that aide in the movement of species in the pursuit of their life processes, increasing the resilience and efficacy of protected areas or Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs);

    3. Plant trees that will result in permanent additions to the forest canopy/cover, improve existing forest, or allow for permanent protection of forests. To this end, selection of tree planting projects will focus on those involving long-term (many decades) maintenance of trees and forests. Providing permanent additions means planning for the long-term maintenance of newly created forest canopy/cover. Improving existing forest means supporting improved regeneration of forests after natural or other disturbances through incremental tree planting and planning for their long-term maintenance. More specifically, planning for enduring benefits means that:
      1. Projects will not affect how annual allowable cut is determined in accordance with legislation or policies currently in place in AB. The 2BT projects will not influence the determination of the province’s allowable annual cut as determined in accordance with legislation or policies currently in place in AB. In addition, future tree growth from 2BT projects will not be used to generate increased harvesting, that is, no immediate allowable cut effect will be generated from 2BT projects.
      2. Areas planted will be monitored through the landscape approach monitoring system in place in AB.
  3. AB has, in its legal, regulatory and policy frameworks, forest management plans that align with the objectives in this Agreement, including the objective of ensuring long-term maintenance and permanent increase in forest canopy/cover, and upon receiving funding from the federal government, AB would voluntarily assume and continue those obligations.
  4. Projects contribute clear climate change mitigation benefits. Jurisdictions should focus on contributing to this primary purpose, for example, by:
    1. prioritizing tree planting sites that involve relatively little clearing of vegetation (to reduce emissions due to site preparation);
    2. prioritizing afforestation rather than reforestation after natural disturbance where possible (because in the latter case the forest will typically regenerate naturally, although more slowly); and
    3. considering appropriate species selection, changing climatic conditions, site selection, and care, such as supported by provincial and territorial requirements for Registered Professional Foresters to approve forest management plans.
  5. Projects contribute to planting the right trees in the right places. This includes:
    1. selecting sites that contribute to the purpose of the project including climate change mitigation and co-benefits;
    2. selecting sites where trees/forests would naturally grow;
    3. selecting sites expected to support tree survival and healthy growth;
    4. selecting tree species and species provenances suitable to the site, purpose and applicable regulations. Generally, this means indigenous species but could involve other species as ecologically appropriate (specifically, to ensure survival in urban settings); and
    5. considering the implications of climate change in choosing site and species/provenances including the need to balance short-term survival and long-term adaptability.
  6. Projects substantially contribute to the 2BT program goal of planting two billion trees including to permanently expand Canada’s forest canopy/cover. AB should prioritize projects that contribute to this goal, meaning that:
    1. other means of achieving tree and forest growth (for example, facilitating natural regeneration) generally will not be funded;
    2. the planting must involve trees; other vegetation like shrubs could be planted but generally will not be supported;
    3. the planting must be incremental, i.e. it cannot be required under any law or regulation or as a condition of any permit or approval, and it would not occur under business-as-usual regeneration after harvest operations; and
    4. a project must focus on planting trees, including growing the supply of trees where applicable, and cannot focus primarily on silviculture or other forest management activity not related to planting trees.
  7. The Parties do not intend to plant trees on lands where other ecosystems provide unique habitats for plants and animals (e.g. native grassland ecosystems) or to support organizations meet their legal obligations to regenerate forests such as a legal obligation to regenerate after harvesting under sustainable forest management regimes or to support activities that regenerate forests on private lands as part of business-as-usual commercial forestry activities.
  8. The Parties recognize that plans to plant trees and plantation success can be affected by unplanned circumstances such as weather, fire and pests.

Working together

  1. It is hereby acknowledged and agreed that the Parties to this Agreement are Canada and AB only.

    Canada’s representation in this Agreement is led by Natural Resources Canada and AB’s representation in this Agreement is led by Daniel Lux, Assistant Deputy Minister, Alberta Forestry, Parks and Tourism.

  2. The Parties will work collaboratively to address issues as they arise through a sustainable process of dialogue in order to achieve the objectives of this Agreement.
  3. The Parties agree that nothing in this Agreement commits the Parliament of Canada or AB’s Legislature to enact or refrain from enacting legislation, or their respective Governors in Council to proclaim or repeal regulations.
  4. The Parties agree that this Agreement is without prejudice to the position of either Party regarding legislative jurisdiction over the matters addressed in this Agreement.;
  5. This Agreement shall be effective on the date of signature by the Parties and expire on the completion date of the Final Funding Agreement.

Government of Alberta

January 17, 2023

Daniel Lux
Assistant Deputy Minister
Alberta Forestry, Parks and Tourism

January 25, 2023

Mark Parsons
Deputy Minister
Intergovernmental Relations, Executive Council

Government of Canada

January 30, 2023

Glenn Hargrove
Assistant Deputy Minister
Natural Resources Canada

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