Tree Canada, a tree planting charity, has announced more than $1 million investment to restore the forests destroyed by the devastating Fort McMurray wildfires last year. Following overwhelming support from corporate partners and everyday Canadians, Tree Canada announced that plantings will begin this spring.
Tree Canada's "Operation ReLeaf - Fort McMurray" program will begin planting trees in publically-owned natural, forested areas to facilitate forest regrowth according to Fire Smart standards. Discussions are also underway to replace trees lost in adjacent First Nation communities. The restoration project will continue at least into 2018, and possibly into 2019 with a focus on residential trees and street trees scheduled to be planted. A planned 2018 project will aim to restore the tree canopy in Beacon Hill, one of the neighbourhoods hardest hit by the blaze that consumed an area approximately the size of the province of P.E.I.
"We are deeply grateful to Tree Canada and all of its partners for this very generous donation," said Melissa Blake, Mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. "This support will undoubtedly lift the spirits of the entire community and help us restore so much of the natural beauty that was impacted by the wildfire."
"We're dedicated to returning this community to its former beauty and would like to thank our corporate partners and individual Canadians for making it possible," said Michael Rosen, President of Tree Canada, who personally visited the region last year to assess the damage and prioritize areas for reforestation. "We deeply sympathize with residents who lost their homes and have had their lives so disrupted by the fire. It is my sincere hope that this initiative will help to bring back a sense of normalcy."
To support the Operation ReLeaf Fort McMurray program, Tree Canada's long-time partner CN generously donated $1 million.
"Fort McMurray is an important community for CN, and our own employees were personally affected by the disaster. We are proud to support an initiative that will not only help restore the tree canopy but will also contribute to the wellbeing of this community with lasting benefits," said Mike Cory, CN Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer. "We encourage other Canadian businesses to join CN in support of Fort McMurray's reforestation."
In addition to CN, Tree Canada has collected generous donations from TELUS, IKEA Canada, FedEx Express Canada, U-Haul, BP Canada Energy Group and Unilever Canada, as well as many individual Canadians.
If you wish to continue the support for Tree Canada's efforts to replenish Fort McMurray's forests, please donate online at www.treecanada.ca. To learn more about Operation ReLeaf - Fort McMurray, visit https://treecanada.ca/en/programs/operation-releaf/.