With decision made to close Ontario Tree Seed Plant, what next?
AWARE News Nework
The Forest Gene Conservation Network (FGCN) has called on the Ontario government to continue support for the services provided by the Ontario Tree Seed Plant in Angus
In a November 1 2018 letter to then Natural Resources Minister Jeff Yurek (the current minister is John Yakabuski), FGCN executive director Barb Boysen acknowledges Yurek’s decision October 18, 2018 to close the plant.
But, she notes that a review of tree seed management in Ontario undertaken by a coalition of stakeholders uncovered “vastly different circumstances between northern and southern Ontario, and between commercial forestry interests and the ecological restoration that that is increasingly needed to support communities on overdeveloped landscapes.”
The private sector can only provide seed services where costs are supported by economies of scale, but “in southern Ontario, biodiversity restoration requires many seed sources of many species,” with “economies of scale well below the profit margin of most growers,” Boysen write.
Ecological restoration is best undertaken collaboratively by the private sector, non-profit organizations and the government, she adds. “The 50 Million Tree Program is a good example of what has worked and what should continue. The OTSP was an essential part of that program.”
Boysen expresses concern that the ministry’s “messaging” will lead the public to believe that the seed plant’s closing will have no repercussions on forest restoration. “This is simply not true.”
Boysen’s letter itemizes a number of issues that now have to be addressed, including divestment of plant assets, property and buildings, as well as updating the ministry’s seed transfer policy, establishing a native seed genetic archive and helping fund regional genetic associations that manage provincial forest genetic assets, “recognizing that the south’s non-crown assets are the source of genetic material that northern crown forests will need to adapt to climate change.”
FGCA Seed Stakeholder Update including full text of letter to minister and a fact sheet on ministry transition plans
Our Case for the Ontario Tree Seed Facility from AWARE Essa and the Friends of the Utopia Gristmill and Park