British Columbia has planted more than one billion new trees since 2018 to help reduce the effects of climate change and provide forests for future generations.
The Province planted 301 million trees in 2021, a record 304 million in 2020, 258 million in 2019 and 255 million in 2018. In 2022, it is expected tree-planters will plant nearly 18 million new trees on B.C.’s Coast and nearly 247 million in the Interior. Efforts are focused on regenerating forests affected by the 2017-18 wildfires and reducing the impact of climate change.
“B.C. is leading the country in its science-based reforestation efforts and has planted over 1 billion trees since 2018,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “This milestone would not have been possible without the hard work of thousands of silviculture workers who prepare and plant millions of diverse saplings, ensuring our forests are resilient for generations to come.”
Next year, about 5,000 silviculture workers will be employed planting throughout the province. Currently there are another 1,300 tree nursery workers preparing millions of seedlings for cold storage, where they’ll wait until spring to be shipped to planting sites around B.C.
B.C. plants a mix of 20 native tree species, including lodgepole pine, interior spruce, western red cedar, Douglas fir and Larch. This blend helps ensure future forests are climate-adaptable, resilient and diverse. Seedlings are sown in the spring, managed throughout the summer, and lifted, boxed and stored in the winter for planting in the following spring.
Nurseries and cold-storage facilities support local economies and employment in many communities throughout B.C.
“Replanting harvested areas and those areas ravaged by wildfire and pests is essential to our fight against climate change and rebuilding forest health. The millions of trees planted this year will increase the carbon-capture capacity of our forests and reduce emissions in our province over the long term,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
According to Heyman, the trees will reduce the risks of landslides and floods as well as support essential biodiversity and wildlife habitat in BC.
Trees are valuable for carbon sequestration. They capture and hold carbon from the atmosphere and by the time they are grown, one million trees planted today can have the greenhouse gas benefit of removing 42,000 cars from the road for a year.
The city of Quesnel is located in an area hard hit by the mountain pine beetle. Bob Simpson, mayor of Quesnel says “Reforestation is vitally important to the people of Quesnel and to communities throughout the Cariboo and beyond. If we take care of our forests today, they will be there for future generations.”
Jessie Corey, terrestrial conservation manager, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia said along with limiting climate change impacts like flooding and fires, “these efforts support long-term planning for conservation and improved stewardship of wildlife populations and habitat, which will help to build resilient landscapes and better support biodiversity in the province.”
Annual tree-planting efforts in B.C. start on the coast in early February, then expand throughout the Interior and Northern regions by the second week of July. Fall planting makes up a small portion of the annual reforestation effort but takes place in September and October in some parts of the province.
Hadley Archer, executive director of Nature United says the planting of one billion trees is a significant milestone for the government and silviculture workers of BC. “These efforts support long-term planning for conservation and improved stewardship of wildlife populations and habitat, which will help to build resilient landscapes and better support biodiversity in the province.”
Since 1987, forest licensees are required by law to replant areas harvested in B.C. The ministry’s reforestation program is carried out through BC Timber Sales, the Forests for Tomorrow program and the Forest Carbon Initiative.