You might have very fond memories of a tree.
Maybe you climbed one as a child, or perhaps your treehouse was the old neighborhood hangout.
But just because a tree is dying doesn’t mean it needs to be removed right away. A dying tree could take years to fully pass and can remain strong even when sick or damaged.
Elora’s new carbon offset program, Tree Trust, will help local residents see all that trees do for them and particularly, what they can do for trees.
“We started this program so that people in the community have an opportunity to offset their carbon heavy flights,” said Tree Trust program manager, Toni Ellis, of the Elora Environment Centre.
“Given the growing concern about climate change, offsetting carbon from air travel is something people are asking if they can do locally. TreeTrust.ca is made in Centre Wellington, with an initiative driven by a need that we have heard from our community: the desire to keep offset purchases and impact local.”
In celebration of Elora’s 2019 Tree Day, the Elora Environment Centre recently launched Canada’s first ever carbon offset program with a dual mandate: to plant young trees and to care for large legacy trees.
Ellis says this program will offer the community the opportunity to purchase an offset and see the money go towards the local community and in the local urban forest.
“We have teamed up the Centre Local Arborists Association and it’s a collective of arborists who have their best interest in the trees they are helping to save,” Ellis said.
“The program was launched on June 1 and this brought four companies of professional arborists together who teamed up to work and learn from each other.”
According to Tree Trust, is not only about extending the life of older trees, but in addition, planting strong and resilient young trees.
Seed funding for the project was shared by the Canadian Tree Fund.
Tree Trust says that by extending the life of large mature trees, they are securing the carbon the older trees have already captured until younger trees are mature enough to grow into their role as “carbon capture heroes”.
“Diversifying our local tree canopy is good for our environment and economy,” said Curt Hammond from Pearl Street Communications, one of the program sponsors.
“Tree Trust is going to help us plant the right trees for a changing environment in the right places. It is also going to let us nurture and support the amazing “carbon sinks’ we have in Centre Wellington and help them stay strong. We know that investing a little time and money into older trees can help extend their life and save the carbon they have captured.”
Although aviation is a relatively small industry, it has a disproportionately large impact on the climate system. It accounts for four to nine per cent of the total climate change impact of human activity according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
Greenhouse gas emissions from aviation continue to grow. Since 1990, CO2 emissions from international aviation have increased 83 per cent.
The carbon calculator at TreeTrust.ca is available to anyone looking to offset their air travel.
“And these donations are pretty reasonable” Ellis says.
A return flight from Toronto to Vancouver suggests a donation of $36. A trip from Toronto to Amsterdam is $26.
Donors can also send make contributions for past flights and for donations $200 or more, Tree Trust will provide a certificate to the donor in honor of the trees they are helping save
All funds benefit the Elora Environment Centre, a registered charity, and all donations are tax deductible.
Funds raised will help hire arborists from the Centre Wellington Arborist Association to extend the life of older trees.
Founded in 1993, the Elora Environment Centre works in the community to deliver environmental programming focused on trees, water and climate nurturing community sustainability from the ground up.
At the launch, Tree Trust saw its first legacy tree cared for by Baum Tree Care, MW Tree Service, Full Circle Tree Care and Out of Your Tree Care.
MP Michael Chong, Wellington-Halton Hills, was also on hand to show support for the program at the grounds of the Elora Community Centre.
Along with a tree walk, historical enactments and tree planting, the event brought out community members who wanted to share in their love of trees.
Under the legacy tree, two sugar maples donated by Green Legacy were planted.
“We really felt we had to do something and it’s been so important for me to get the word out,” Ellis said.
“What I hope is that the program will help raise money, yes, but also to help people understand that taking a tree down isn’t always necessary This is a pilot project that we hope will grow and into other communities as well so that they too can adopt a similar idea.”
For more information about Tree Trust and to calculate amounts of travel on the simple carbon calculator, visit: TreeTrust.ca.