The federal and B.C. governments have signed an agreement to plant more than 37 million trees across the province with a focus on wildfire-impacted areas.

Natural Resources Canada Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and B.C. Forests Minister Bruce Ralston launched the 2023 tree-planting season in North Vancouver on Tuesday at the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia.

According to both governments, all the trees planted are expected to remove more than 2.1 million tonnes of climate-polluting carbon dioxide from the air — the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking more than 467,000 cars off the road for a year.

The initiative is part of the federal government’s greater “2 Billion Trees Commitment,” which funds organizations to help reach its planting target over 10 years. If Canada meets that target, it would increase the country’s overall tree cover by an estimated 1.1 million hectares.

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“Nature-based climate solutions — those initiatives that leverage the capabilities of the world around us to help capture and sequester carbon while reinforcing and assisting with biodiversity loss, and the restoration of habitat — are a critical part of this plan,” Wilkinson said at the launch.

“There is no greater ally in our fight against climate change than our forests.”

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The tree-planting initiative in B.C. will be funded through $80 million in joint funding from each government.

Tuesday’s announcement represents the second injection of federal funds into B.C. under the 2 Billion Trees Commitment. The province also received support in 2021 and 2022 to conduct survey work in regions such as the Cariboo, Thompson Rivers and Okanagan.

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“Reforesting these areas reduces the risk of landslides and floods while supporting the essential biodiversity and wildlife habitat all British Columbians value,” added Ralston.

According to a Tuesday news release from Ottawa and B.C., some 1.6 billion trees have been planted in the province since 2017. About 5,000 people are employed in reforestation in the province, Ralston said.

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Elizabeth Mcsheffrey