In Other Words – why it is important to plant trees

Basil English,

Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency

People often say that planting trees is a good deed for the environment, but when you try to add it up, you realize the value of a living tree is incalculable to our planet and the species on it.  So to get to the root of the matter, we interviewed the Tree Guy aka Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.

Is planting trees good for the environment?

Yes with out a doubt! 

Does it help address climate change?

So there are a few ways in which planting trees help address climate change: some of the direct-effective benefits of plantings trees are that they absorb carbon and release oxygen.  We breathe what they create.

Trees also help mitigate climate change by keeping urban temperatures cooler areas in the summer by providing shade to buildings and homes during summer. This reduces the need for the use of air conditioners (though not so much here in Newfoundland!). In winter trees block wind and reduce wind speeds keeping houses and buildings warmer, which also helps reduce energy usage

Does planting trees here in Newfoundland make a difference in other parts of the world?

Climate cycles have no borders, but it’s difficult to see direct impacts. BUT any measure taken in any single country will have benefits everywhere. By planting trees, we increase the carbon we sequester and we reduce energy consumption.

Does planting a tree in your own backyard make a difference?

Large-scale tree planting projects have larger impacts on the environment, but individuals planting trees can have a bunch of benefits by helping people act in a way that is very real, physical and connects people with their environment. Too often people feel helpless when it comes to global environmental challenges. This is a way people can look at the tree growing as something tangible. 

In urban settings, trees provide habitat for birds and larger animals, and improve aesthetics (and property values). They also make people feel good – there are many studies showing that people’s mental health can be improved by nature, which helps them feel more content and with a better sense of wellbeing.

Depending on where you live, trees can also help reduce noise pollution from cars, buses, and industry.  

What are some of the environmental benefits of planting trees?

On the larger scale, trees and forests are part of the earth’s ecosystem. Trees help improve water quality by filtering water pollutants. In addition, they slow down the movement of water which reduces the risk of flooding. Trees also can sequester pollutants from the air, water and soil.  

When is the best time to plant trees in Newfoundland and Labrador?

It depends on your ability to take care of the tree. Through our Department’s reforestation program we plant trees on an industrial scale – millions of trees – and those trees are usually on their own so we usually plant from spring through summer so that the trees have time to acclimatize for the winter. It is really about being careful and making sure the roots are handled carefully and the tree is well watered. So if you are planting in your backyard you can probably plant from May (or when it begins to thaw) to September/October. 

So there you have it! Planting trees is a good deed for the environment, and for yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you plant 1, 2, 3 or even 100 trees – it’s all good! So grab a shovel and get your hands dirty!

thegreenrock.ca is proud to partner with Junior Forest Wardens NL for the Annual Tree Sale.   In Other Words is a project of thegreenrock.ca – Guide to the Good. You know when people start talking about the importance of taking care of the environment, and you’re interested, but it’s hard to pay attention when they talk about the microns, the quarks and parts per million? In Other Words makes scientific information understandable and practical.   If you like it, share it!

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three old growing questions, renewed

we’ve been here on the island in the north Atlantic for a long time.  potatoes, wheat and soybean is the topic.  three questions:

can they grow in western newfoundland?

under what conditions can it be economically feasible?

can we do it sustainably?

Memorial’s Dr. Catherine Keske et al are looking for the answers.  here’s the story.

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thegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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Junior Forest Wardens Annual Tree Sale Saturday June 14, 2014 – CDs Trees

ThJFW Tree Sale 2014e Annual Junior Forest Wardens Tree Sale is a sign for many that summer is just about here.  The event traditionally happens Saturday, the day before Father’s Day, and over the past 18 years many proud papas have received Tree Sale stuff for their dedicated day.  It makes a perfect gift because it will progress the garden, get dad out to dig, and last and last and last.  The kids grow and go, but a good tree will stand in its spot for a hundred years.

CDs Trees and JFW established an excellent partnership in 2013.  For its first 17 or so years, the JFW Tree Sale was held at the Forest Ecology Centre on Brookfield Road.  Exciting new projects there in 2013 led JFW to CDs Trees.

Owned by Chris and Debbie Swyers, CDs Trees is a magical place filled with sights and sounds and scents of joy.  Junior Forest Wardens are not the only ones who think so – in 2014 CDs Trees received an Honourable Mention for Canadian Nursery Landscape Association’s Garden Centre of the Year Award.

Like all Junior Forest Wardens events, the Tree Sale is a family affair.  Moms, Dads and kids from 5-18  make up the Junior Forest Warden groups.  The groups are self-organized, and adventures vary from group to group and meeting to meeting.  Tree Sale Day is an annual highlight, when Wardens have an amazing time helping customers, pushing and pulling carts and wagons, and getting up close with nature.

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I spy a dandelion! citizen scientists Plantwatch

waiting to be!The sun was shining there for a while, and the grass is green, mostly, in the greater St. John’s metro area. Can the dandelion be far behind?  Keep an eye out!  Your observations from your favorite field, trail, patch by your workplace or even your own backyard can help track climate change.  Works well for classrooms and groups too.  And it will give you one more good reason to get out.

PlantWatch is part of the national NatureWatch program – a series of volunteer monitoring programs that help identify ecological changes.  Local people, no matter where local is all across Canada, can play.   This is an opportunity to help scientists discover how, and why, our natural environment is changing.  It will bring the lofty and intimidating phrase ‘climate change’ down to the soft patch underneath your feet.  

MUN Botanical Garden is the coordination centre for Plantwatch in Newfoundland and Labrador.  There are 18 excellent, common, maybe-in-your-garden plants in NL’s Plantwatch roster including the brave and sweet dandelion, the stalwart rhododendron, the stately lilac and more!  All you have to do is pick a spot with the right plant, register, watch and record the timing of blooming dates (phenology).

The data collected provincially and nationally can be used as indicators of environmental changes in the areas where the plants are growing.  And just being out there will make you feel happy.

NLEE – getting the kids outside

Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators (NLEE)Common sense tells us that the natural environment is good for kids.  More and more research is showing that kids not being outdoors is bad.

With that in mind, the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators (NLEE) is striving to help educators (teachers, youth group leaders, parents…) get the kids keyed up on the great outdoors, and all the good things that go with it.

thegreenrock.ca joinedNLEE Conference 2014 - in the field representatives from the Brother Brennan Environmental Centre, Botanical Gardens, Salmonier Nature Park, Food Security Network, Junior Forest Wardens NL, parents and others in Traytown for the Annual Conference in April.  ‘Educational Edibles’ brought together a  diverse group who talked, listened, hiked, set fire to milk cartons, learned much about school and community gardens, practiced making a raised bed garden plot and more, all toward sharing great outdoor activities with educators.

NLEE is responding to a need.  Parents in this province join the discussion about how much screen time is too much, debate and sometimes despair about what kids eat, and share stories about acceptance.  Through the year NLEE holds activities and events that share information and make it easy (or easier) for educators to integrate smart, sound, sustainable practices into our children’s lives.

Lots to talk about.   Lots to do.  Join NLEE and get in on the conversation.

In the meantime, check out these 10 tips to grow outdoor-loving kids..

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Tree Tapping at Pippy Park – April 6

 

maple trees are behind it all in St. John's

maple trees are behind it all in St. John’s

Here is home to maple trees.  Many maple trees.  So many maple trees that some people, sometimes, call them weeds.  They create canopies over gardens, in parks, and  between sidewalks and roads.  They are plentiful.

In a kind of parallel format, here is home to breakfasts, brunches, and sometimes even suppers where maple syrup pours over pancakes, waffles, toutons, french toast and other delights.   Most times, almost ALL the time, there is no direct relationship between the maple tree in the garden and the maple syrup on the table.

Can these worlds collide?   Yes!

Lisa and Steve McBride – the couple who walk the goats in coats – tap.  Root Cellars Rock shared their experience a few years back.  And now, thanks to the Friends of Pippy Park,  the rest of us can learn to tap too!

Friends of Pippy Park are running a free family workshop this Sunday April 6th 2014 from 1 to 3.  Meet at Pippy Park Headquarters, Mount Scio Road.

This is the skivvy on what you will learn:
• To identify tap-able trees in Pippy Park;
• When a tree is ready to tap;
• What materials you will need;
• How to tap a tree sustainably. (If you tap please cap!); and
• How to turn sap to syrup.

Bring your own mug for hot chocolate.   No charge for the workshop, but an annual family membership of $20 to Friends of Pippy Park will support initiatives like this!

the Nourish film: Cameron Diaz, Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan, us & food

Nourish

Nourish

Newfoundland is an island in the North Atlantic at the 47th parallel.  Since glaciers scraped much of the island’s fertile soil off onto the Grand Banks a long time ago, the growing was never that easy, but we managed.

These days most of what we eat is not from here.   Why is that?  And how do the pretty pinky-orange pears and other foods come to be here?

Nourish is a conversation about food and sustainability.  The Nourish film looks at our relationship to food, and how it connects to biodiversity, climate change, public health, and social justice.  It won lots of awards at film festivals.

Cameron Diaz, Jamie Oliver, Michael Pollan and many others whose knowledge is great but celebrity is more limited are featured.  Come see it!

Tuesday March 18, 2014,  7 – 9 pm (doors open 6:40)
District School, Strawberry Marsh Road, St. John’s (across from Arts and Culture Centre). Suggested minimum donation: $5

Brought to us by Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Educators NLEE

47thparalleThe green line shows the island of Newfoundland lining up at the 47th parallel.