The Riding Mountain UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve (RMBR) held a “National Tree Project Planting Day” last month to highlight the invaluable role that trees play in our environment. The initiative stems from a collaboration between the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association and the Government of Canada, which will see 100,000 trees planted in 14 Canadian biosphere reserves.
Trees convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen, and “in one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 as is produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles,” according to Tree Canada, a non-profit charitable organization that promotes the planting of trees.
Volunteer tree-planting students from Rossburn Elementary School and Rossburn Collegiate also learned that:
- Trees improve the quality of the air we breathe, by filtering particulates out of the air and absorbing pollutant gases.
- Trees help to conserve energy in both summer and winter — in summer, by reducing the energy demanded for cooling our houses and in winter, by acting both as an insulator and deflector of frigid winds.
- Trees conserve water and prevent soil erosion, as can be seen along our highways when shelterbelts prevent blowing topsoil on Prairie farmland.
- Trees support birds and wildlife, protect us all from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and help combat climate change and global warming.
- Trees provide food, and in Canada, for example, “an apple tree, planted on even the tiniest urban lot, can yield 15 to 20 bushels of fruit per year.”
- Trees are an important renewable resource, that can be selectively harvested for both lumber and fuel.
- There are proven connections between the presence of trees and the physical and spiritual health of humans. Therefore, unless you are the owner of a rogue tree that impinges on your neighbour’s property or rubs on the shingles of your house, there are no downsides!
The students, led by Rossburn Elementary principal, Val Ross and Rossburn Collegiate principal, Bob Ploshynsky, planted 1,000 white spruce, Colorado blue spruce, Scots pine and Siberian larch (similar to tamarack). The white spruce was proclaimed Manitoba’s Provincial Tree in 1991, selected based on its extensive range, the species’ contribution to Manitoba’s development and its use in landscaping.
“Thanks go to Ryan Canart of the Upper Assiniboine River Conservation District who arranged for the preparation of the soil and who acquired and, most importantly, nurtured the trees until planting day,” said RMBR chair, Jim Irwin. “And, going forward, the Municipality of Rossburn (MOR) has committed to protecting and caring for the trees, planted today, for the next 50 years,” he said.
Student, Liam Noll said, “I think these trees should be made into a park, where you can stroll around and have a nice view. I think that would be really cool.”
John Muir (born 1838), naturalist, writer, conservationist and founder of The Sierra Club agreed with Liam’s sentiment, when he wrote, “Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”
Irwin also thanked Martyn Lambe, recreation/facility director for the MOR, and Valerie Pankratz, executive director of the RMBR, for organizing the event. Also in attendance were John Zilkey, assistant superintendent for Park West School Division, MLA Greg Nesbitt, and MP Robert Sopuck.
“Biosphere Reserves,” said Irwin, “are living laboratories, recognized by UNESCO for their learning opportunities, sustainable development practices and preservation of natural ecosystems.”
Plant a tree and leave a legacy.