The Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA) celebrated Earth Day on April 22 by kicking off its 24th annual Tree Giveaway for the region. With the support of Ontario Power Generation and municipal and conservation partners, RRCA is hosting and participating in a Tree Giveaway in each of its five member municipalities of Cornwall, South Stormont, North Stormont, South Glengarry, and North Glengarry.
“Our first Tree Giveaway event this year took place within the City of Cornwall’s third annual Eco Day at Lamoureux Park, where we distributed 1000 tree seedlings to those in attendance,” says Jessica Herrington, RRCA Stewardship Coordinator. “There is significant enthusiasm in our region for tree planting, and you could really see it in people’s smiles as they lined up to choose their free seedlings.”
RRCA’s Tree Giveaway event in Cornwall provided seedlings on a first-come, first-served basis. For RRCA’s other municipalities, residents were able to select and reserve their seedlings through an online form. Once again, RRCA partnered with its neighbouring Conservation Authority, South Nation Conservation to hold Giveaway events in their shared municipalities.
“Altogether, we will be distributing 10,000 free trees to Eastern Ontario residents,” says Herrington.
RRCA’s annual Tree Giveaway also serve to introduce residents to their Conservation Authority’s various tree planting programs, which help improve the area’s tree cover, water quality, flood resilience, wildlife habitat, and the general health of local watersheds. Overall, the RRCA is set to add 58,000 trees on both public and private properties in 2023, adding to the over 1.1 million trees planted by the RRCA since 1994 within its watershed jurisdiction.
“RRCA’s forestry programs are designed to make it easy for property owners to add native tree and shrub species to their land, whether they are looking to plant a windbreak, attract wildlife, or simply improve their existing landscape,” says Herrington.
For projects over 500 trees, the RRCA offers a full-service tree planting service to the community, which includes consultation, site preparation, seedling purchase and planting, and follow-up assessments. Through various partnerships, the RRCA can offer significant tree planting subsidies to property owners, with funding available for up to 100 percent of project costs. This spring, over 40,000 trees are being planted through this program. RRCA staff are currently booking site visits for next year’s planting season.
For smaller projects, the RRCA offers native tree and shrub seedlings sales to the community at a discounted price. An online form on the RRCA website allowed property owners to select a variety of species before picking up their seedlings in the spring at Gray’s Creek Conservation Area.
“This program is very popular within the community and is resulting in 10,000 trees being planted this spring,” adds Herrington. While the order deadline for this program is now closed, residents are encouraged to subscribe to RRCA’s monthly newsletter to be notified when the next order form becomes available.
The RRCA also hosts community and corporate tree planting events, contributing to an additional 8,000 trees being planted this year.