On World Environment Day, Government of Canada to help Forests Ontario plant 50 million trees

News release

June 5, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario

Canadians know that forests are vital to our future. Forests are “the lungs of the world,” producing oxygen we need to breathe and cleaning the air and water. They are also home to an abundance of plants, animals and other species. Investing in Canada’s forests creates a natural legacy for generations of Canadians.

Keeping forests healthy is also one of the best ways to fight climate change, because they absorb carbon pollution and protect against erosion in flood zones. However, forests are at risk as climate change increases the frequency, duration and intensity of forest fires, which release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, put communities at risk, and contaminate the air that we breathe.

In recognition of World Environment Day, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, announced today that the Government of Canada intends to invest up to $15 million over four years to support Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program. This funding will help Forests Ontario deliver on its vision to plant 50 million trees by 2025.

Planting trees is a practical and affordable way for landowners to increase their property value, invest in their community, and contribute to a healthy environment for wildlife and people to enjoy—now and for the future.


“The goal of planting 50 million trees across Ontario is inspiring, and I am proud our government can support Forests Ontario’s vision. By funding this tree-planting program, we are investing in clean air, a healthier environment, and more resilient communities as our climate changes. Projects like these support good local jobs and make our economy stronger while leaving an important natural legacy for our kids and grandkids to enjoy.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Healthy forests are essential to keep our air clean, our communities safe, and our economy strong. I was disappointed by the Government of Ontario’s decision to cut funding for this valuable program, and am proud to see the Government of Canada step up. This is a practical and affordable way to support middle class jobs and small businesses like nurseries across the province, while investing in vibrant communities and a better future.”
– Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

“The Government of Canada’s support for the Forests Ontario tree planting program demonstrates an understanding of the important contribution trees make to our lives and the environment. This funding ensures that the momentum and good work of Forests Ontario and our planting partners will be maintained. This is important ‘seed money’ to be matched by others—an approach that is embraced by our organization. In the immediate term, it means the investments made by nurseries and others will not be lost.”
– Rob Keen, Registered Professional Forester and CEO of Forests Ontario

Quick facts

  • June 5 is an international day of recognition to appreciate clean air, increase awareness of how we contribute to air pollution, and promote ways in which we can individually and collectively reduce air pollution around the world.

  • Over the last four decades, the world’s forests have absorbed a quarter of all carbon pollution produced by human activity.

  • Research shows that 40% forest cover is required for an ecosystem to maintain its health. Currently, central/southern Ontario has an average of 26% forest cover with some areas as low as 5%.

  • The funding for Forests Ontario, subject to funding agreements, will be administered through Natural Resources Canada using a portion of Ontario’s Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund allocation.

  • The Government of Canada is working to double the amount of nature protected across Canada's lands and oceans and has launched the $1.3 billion Nature Legacy—the single-largest investment to protect nature in Canadian history.

  • The Government of Ontario announced it was cancelling funding for Forests Ontario in April 2019.

Associated links


Sabrina Kim
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Vanessa Adams
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada
343-292-6100 (Ottawa)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

Natural Resources Canada's Twitter Page

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