Changes to Conservation Authorities Act raise concern about the future of reforestation program
Essex Region – The Essex Region will become a little greener in the coming weeks. With some modifications to planting practices to ensure safety, ERCA is gearing up to reforest over 150 acres of land by planting and distributing more than 125,000 trees across the watersheds of the region.
“The importance of planting trees and restoring habitat in the Essex Region cannot be overstated,” said Tim Byrne, ERCA’s CAO. “The ecological and economic value of trees is well documented when it comes to protecting soil and water quality, mitigating flooding and reducing the impacts of climate change.” In the Essex Region, 8.5% of the land is in a natural state. The United Nations has identified a minimum target of 12% in order for a region to be healthy and sustainable.
“However, tree planting is one of the program areas identified as ‘non-mandatory’ in the changes to the Conservation Authorities Act contained within Bill 229,” Byrne goes on to say. “Based on our current understanding of this legislation, in order to continue this program after this year, ERCA will need to enter into separate agreements with each municipality within our region.”
While Conservation Authorities across the province await the regulations associated with the legislation, Byrne is concerned about the potential impacts of this change. “Our region is one of the least forested in Canada, and having to strike agreements with each municipality to continue to tree plant at this scale could significantly impede progress, creating an additional hurdle to improving water quality, providing habitat for endangered species and reducing soil erosion.”
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province in 1973, and governed by local municipalities, to provide for the organization and delivery of programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in Ontario.
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