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Reality Check

RC-12: Does Manitoba Trees for Tomorrow Program Fight Climate Change?

Date Posted: June 11, 2011

The Trees for Tomorrow Program (TFTP), is a commitment to plant more than six million trees in Manitoba between 2008 and 2012, in partnership with the Manitoba Forestry Association.

Manitoba has fallen behind on its target to plant a million trees each year. This year Manitoba is spending an additional $1.23 million to plant 2 million trees. TFTP funding now totals over $6 million.

According to the TFTP "2008-2010 Summary Report" only 2 million trees had been planted by the end of 2010. Manitoba estimates 3 million trees have been planted or given away, as of May 2011, this including those trees which were given away with no verification of planting. About 20% of trees distributed in 2009 and 2010 were given away, compared to 95% in 2008.

TFTP is part of Beyond Kyoto, Manitoba's Green Future, Next Steps: 2008, Manitoba's plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions which is also enshrined in the Climate Change and Emissions Reductions Act.

Manitoba estimates planting six million trees will remove more than 13 tonnes of CO2 - from the atmosphere annually over half a century. It is unclear how these estimates take into account tree give-aways, which are often not planted. Full-grown trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Although tree planting sequesters carbon, David Suzuki Foundation science director and forest ecologist Faisal Moola, notes top priority should be "conserving existing forest, and avoiding emissions that happen when you destroy carbon-rich ecosystems."

Spring 2011 flooding across Manitoba may pose challenges to tree planting and calls into question funding the program. Millions spent on planting trees could; reclaim wetlands, thereby sequestering carbon, reducing nutrient run-off, and mitigating overland flooding. Funds could be used to protect portions of Manitoba's boreal, while protecting carbon and bio-diverse habitat, including boreal lands east of Lake Winnipeg.

Year Total Number of Trees Distributed Number of Trees Planted Percentage of Total Trees Planted Number of Trees Given Away Percentage of Total Trees Given Away
2008 260,110 246,838 95% 13,272 5%
2009 816,162 655,323 80% 160,839 20%
2010 1,392,315 1,145,528 82% 246,787 18%
2,468,587 2,047,689 420,898

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