Province told it must consult on Ontario Tree Seed Facility’s future
-Financial Post photo
Planned closing date is too soon – and there’s a core function that can’t be privatized
News release from AWARE Essa and Friends of Utopia
The audience filled Utopia Hall on October 11 to hear representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry present the business case for closing the 94-year-old Ontario Tree Seed Facility in Angus.
Even though the plant loses money, AWARE Essa and Friends of Utopia are convinced it performs a vital task in its seed collection, processing and storage by ensuring that seed provenance is tracked so that trees planted in a zone are grown from seed collected from that zone. This key genetic link to local conditions gives trees the best chance for health and survival.
The case was made forcefully by many at the meeting—including retired MNRF staff, seed collectors, Forests Ontario reps and the nursery industry—that there’s a core function that cannot be privatized because the private sector will always be inclined to cut costs. Ignoring Ontario seed zones in planting will make for much less healthy forests; even worse would be importing seed from outside Canada.
The problem is that this decision was made by MNRF management without consultation of stakeholders and that the timing of the closure, to take place in less than a year, is far too soon to allow for a transition to the private sector the province believes will fill the gap.
The value of the Ontario Tree Seed Facility must be assessed comprehensively, taking into account such “externalities” as:
– the expertise of long-time staff and seed collectors and the excellent service they provide;
– the central role of the Tree Seed Plant in the history of conservation in Ontario and what it means to the community;
– and most importantly, the opportunity for revitalizing the potential of the facility with new management ideas and partnerships to meet the real challenges of climate change and loss of biodiversity.