Solar capacity is growing exponentially around the world as the cost of producing electricity directly from the sun continues to fall. In the Province of Ontario solar installations are being built at record pace. Provincial regulations state that for every hectare of forest removed due the construction of a solar farm one hectare of land must be planted. EOMF is facilitating this through its Forest Restoration Program – a full service planting and restoration program.
“The Model Forest secures the private land to plant, prepares planting plans, purchases seedlings, plants the trees, and offers to monitor the site for a five year period,” says Wade Knight, General Manager of EOMF.
In 2012, they began offering the service to solar companies in eastern Ontario. A total of 54,000 trees were planted in 2013 covering 27 hectares of forest. The program has since been expanding into southern Ontario. In 2014, an additional 82,000 trees were planted with more slated for 2015.
The Model Forest not only ensures provincial regulations are met but is helping to meet afforestation and sustainability goals by finding suitable sites where new “interior” forests can be created or existing forest blocks can be linked with natural corridors.
The Model Forest’s neutrality, reputation for building partnerships, and its long standing history within the community creates a trust factor many other agencies don’t possess. This makes the process easier and more efficient. “Trust needs to be earned, it isn’t obtained overnight,” says Knight.
The program directly supports EOMF’s sustainable landscape vision of a “forest for seven generations” and highlights what can be accomplished through Model Forest governance processes.