Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plants a tree with his sons Hadrien and Xavier at the Frank Conservation Area in Plainfield, Ont. on Sunday, October 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plants a tree with his sons Hadrien and Xavier at the Frank Conservation Area in Plainfield, Ont. on Sunday, October 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

O’Regan says 30 million trees to be planted this year out of 2 billion by 2030

Liberals promised the plantings over the next 10 years during their 2019 federal election campaign

A Liberal campaign pledge to plant two billion trees by 2030 finally seems to have taken root.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan announced Friday that 30 million trees will be planted this season out of the two billion his government promised over the next 10 years during the 2019 federal election campaign.

That goal will see Canada plant an extra 200 million trees each year, which the government says will eventually help sequester carbon.

To get two billion trees into the ground over a decade, around 33 million would have to be planted each month during a tree-planting season, and over nine years that grows to about 37 million trees.

But the actual rollout of the program won’t be as straightforward.

Because seedlings need time to grow and there has to be enough nursery space to support the program as well as land secured, not to mention monitoring in place to ensure the trees survive, O’Regan said the number of trees planted will grow progressively each year.

A graph provided by his office shows the number of trees that are expected to have been planted by 2026 will grow to 500 million, and then exceed one billion in 2028.

“There’ll be significant ramp-up,” he said.

“It takes time to get those seeds in place. This is a long-term play for us though, so it is well worth the wait.”

The government had budgeted around $3 billion for the program, but the parliamentary budget office suggests the price tag for the endeavour will be closer to double that.

A briefing note released to The Canadian Press under federal access-to-information legislation about the discrepancy to the deputy minster of Natural Resources Canada says it will look for its planting partners to help fund the program — something O’Regan’s office also confirms.

“The (parliamentary budget office) report did not mention that the government will seek substantial cost-sharing by its partners, such as provinces and territories, cities and landowners, among others,” the document reads.

Conservative environment and climate change critic Dan Albas says the Liberal government has yet to provide details on how it’s going to plant the two billion trees over the decade.

“It’s clear that the Trudeau Liberals have no plan,” he said in a statement Friday.

“It took the Liberal government over a year before they even announced a plan to plant trees.”

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