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Province told it must consult on Ontario Tree Seed Facility’s future

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In Council Watch
Oct 13th, 2017
2 Comments
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-Financial Post photo

-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.

2 Responses to “Province told it must consult on Ontario Tree Seed Facility’s future”

  1. Mrs D Kingsbury says:

    I have lived in area for 50 years and seen some changes in seed plant. They or ministry used to come and spread big sheets under my huge basswood tree. The tree plant used to have covered sheds, which haven’t been used in years, to grow seedlings. Maybe these can be resurrected to grow native tree species with so many new subdivisions and houses in area, they could be sold for landscaping or tree lots. I’m sure towns and parks would like native trees, some species are hard to find.
    With all forest fire devastation in Canada this year, is nobody replanting? What about our county forests, some of them I’ve seen are ready to harvest. We need to keep this facility to keep using Canadian seed.

  2. John Bacher says:

    This facility was created for good reasons and they remain. Before the seed tree plant reforestation erred in importing white pine seedlings from Germany that were contaminated with blister rust. To prevent this from happening again, seed was collected from native trees in Ontario through the tree seed plant in Angus. Closing the plant is part of the chain of bad moves since 1993 that has slowed reforestation in Ontario. This needs a boost because of the problem of phosphorous pollution from bare stream valleys, which junk science at the time ignored. For more on the Seed Tree plant read my book, “Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz”, Dundurn Press, 2011.

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