The federal government has planted less than half a percent of the two billion trees it pledged to plant across Canada by 2030, The Canadian Press learned.

Figures obtained through an access to information request show that 8.5 million trees had been planted as of mid-November, which is just over 0.4% of what liberals have repeatedly promised.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the promise during the 2019 election campaign, and the goal was repeated during the 2020 government’s throne speech setting political goals.

It claims that the two billion trees would help Canada meet its climate change goals and create approximately 4,300 new jobs.

Despite the slow start to the tree-planting effort, the Natural Resources Ministry said the program is not lagging behind.

“There will be around 30 million trees planted by the end of this year. Tree planting as part of this program will continue to increase,” said Joanna Sivasankaran of Natural Resources Canada.

The “partners” have pledged to grow those 30 million trees, according to the department, which has not yet received or validated all the figures.

Green MP Mike Morrice said the revelation that only 8.5 million trees have been planted so far was “incredibly disappointing” but “not a complete surprise.”

“We have seen a pattern of this government making grandiose promises around the elections, but not keeping them, this being the most recent example,” Morrice said. “Tree planting is one of the cheapest forms of climate action, while forest regeneration can also reduce erosion.”

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The government said it is planning a large tree-planting initiative for the end of December, with a call to register new partners to plant between 250 and 350 million additional trees a year.

So far, only 8.5 million of the 2 billion trees promised by @JustinTrudeau have been planted. #CDNpoli

He blamed the slow start on obtaining seedlings, which can take two years to grow.

In its response to the request for access to information, Natural Resources Canada said it had received 120 expressions of interest from organizations to plant trees in February 2021 and is “finalizing agreements to support the planting of more than 30 million trees throughout the country, both in urban and rural areas. ”

According to government data, 7.6 million of the 8.5 million trees planted since the prime minister made his promise were in British Columbia. In Ontario, an additional 89,000 trees have been planted, 60,400 in Saskatchewan, 238,000 in Alberta, almost 350,000 in Quebec and 235,000 in New Brunswick.

A wide variety of trees have been planted, including millions of conifers, according to government data. In British Columbia, 2.8 million firs and 3.9 million lodgepole pines have taken root. In Ontario, 18,500 oak trees have been planted, including white oak, along with maples, hickory and black walnut trees.

Natural Resources Canada said the figures obtained through the access to information request represent “the most recent compilation of 2021 plantation data” as of mid-November. He said he would have final figures for trees planted in 2021 by next spring and hopes more will be added to the final count from other planting sites.

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In an effort to give the program a boost, the government is set to announce a multi-million dollar push to plant up to 350 million trees a year, including investment in growing seedlings. He is planning to call for proposals to grow trees across Canada before the end of the month. Selected areas include forests, parks, urban and suburban areas, coastal regions, farms, and ranches.

The commitment to plant an additional two billion trees by 2030 means that an additional 200 million must be planted each year, on top of the 500 million seedlings planted annually, even by the forestry industry.

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 13, 2021.

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