Thanks to a powerful initiative in Canada, fallen soldiers will have a living monument to keep their memories alive. In its first five years, an initiative to support the environment, while honoring Canada’s fallen heroes has planted more than 600,000 memorial trees.
The Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is the work of Landscape Ontario. The group proposed reforesting the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Toronto. The 170-kilometre stretch of Highway 401 named the Highway of Heroes, honors Canadian soldiers killed in action since Confederation and including the War of 1812.
The initiative took root and planting began with the help of volunteers, professionals, families of the fallen heroes and active military personnel.
“We’re proud to announce details of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign’s Private Landowner Partnership Program expansion with our partners at Forests Ontario,” said Mark Cullen, Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign Chair & Co-Founder. “Through this campaign, you could have a piece of the world’s largest living tribute while doing your part to protect our environment, beautify our communities and honor our Canadian Heroes. This will also help us reach our target of planting over 1.8 million seedlings by 2022.”
Along with enhancing the world’s largest living tribute, the new forests will provide wind and snow barriers, stabilize soil and maintain groundwater. Tree planting provides corridors and habitat f0r wildlife. Planting forests, to sequester carbon, is one of the most effective methods to cool landscapes and mitigate the effects of climate change. Much like the soldiers honored, these trees will help defend people and the planet in many ways for many years.
“We are also planting 1.8-million more off the highways to acknowledge the sacrifice and unselfish nature of the 1.8-million Canadians who have volunteered for military services during times of war,” said Mark Cullen, chair of the project and executive director of Landscape Ontario.
The remainder of the trees are being planted on private land. The Private Landowner Partnership Program expands the Highway of Heroes effort to private land and will enlist planting partners including Conservation Authorities, stewardship groups, municipalities and forestry consultants that provide tree planting along the 401. Private partners who dedicate at least five acres towards reforestation are urged to participate.
Property owners can now apply for a funding subsidy that provides financial assistance to help plant trees near Highway 401, from Windsor to Cornwall, by virtue of a powerful partnership between the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign, Forests Ontario and their 50 Million Tree Program. The combined subsidy will help support site preparation, tree seedlings, planting and survival assessments.
“What powerful way to commemorate those who served our country than by planting a living green-tribute,” said Rob Keen, CEO of Forests Ontario. “Our network of nursery and forestry professionals will plant exclusively native seedlings, truly commemorating our Canadian soldiers and ensuring this green monument thrives for generations to come.”
The reforestation program has raised more than $9-million, which covers the cost of the first 60,000 trees. So far, more than 3,500 people have donated to the campaign.
It costs $150 to plant a tree that Cullen said people could dedicate in honor of a loved one who served or someone they care about.
“Every tree we plant will clean the air, produce oxygen, filter toxins out of rainwater, and at the same time it will be a living memorial of those people that served in the Canadian military during times of war,” Cullen said. He estimates that in the next two years, they will be able to reach their goal.
Forests Ontario is honored to be the tree-planting partner for the Highway of Heroes campaign. The agency has facilitated the planting of more than 33 million trees across Canada since 2008. It increases Canada’s forest cover by making tree planting easier and more affordable for property owners and municipalities.
Property owners living within the Highway of Heroes boundary, who wish to plant trees, can contact Nicole Baldwin, Restoration Programs Coordinator at Forests Ontario, at (416) 646-1193, ext. 227 or email@example.com.