Since the spring of 2000 OPG has planted approximately 5 million native trees and shrubs on more than 2,400 hectares of ecologically significant lands in southern Ontario. This initiative is a major contribution to OPG's Biodiversity Program and also contributes to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The afforestation of ecologically strategic locations will provide habitat for threatened species that are especially at risk because of the loss and fragmentation of forest habitat in southern Ontario. Plantings are targeted to expand key forested areas and connect woodland patches in an effort to reconnect the fragmented landscape. Buffer plantings along riparian habitats have the added bonus of stabilizing soils and improving water quality and other “ecosystem services”. In 2011, OPG, through our conservation partners, planted close to 500,000 native trees and shrubs, bringing total plantings since 2000 to approximately 5 million native trees and shrubs. This cumulative effort will also address both climate change mitigation and adaptation imperatives by sequestering carbon and enhancing the resiliency of our woodland ecosystems to cope with the effects of climate change.
The Value of our Woodlands
Woodlands in Southern Ontario play a critical role in making our environment livable. They are the dominant historic ecosystem of the region and harbour much of the region's biological diversity, ranging in scale from genetic material to species and communities. This diversity across a landscape ensures the maintenance of ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling and succession which are essential to the survival of all organisms. Woodlands are also sites for education, recreation, tourism, biological research and aesthetic pleasure. Sustainably managed woodlands also provide a range of valuable wood products and can be a source of income for many private landowners.