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Going carbon neutral does not mean emitting no carbon at all. It means emitting only as much as nature through vegetation, trees and organic matter can absorb and sequester. Our knowledge of the science of natural sequestration is growing. It is a very complex subject – what kinds of vegetation, primarily trees, absorb the most CO2? at what stage in their growth do they absorb the most? how many trees of various species are required to balance the CO2 we emit today – from our cars, or furnaces, or electric appliances?

In Eden Mills we turned to Dr. Andrew Gordon, Professor, Forest Ecology & Agroforestry at the University of Guelph for advice and insight. He explained that he had separated from his favourite pick-up truck when he learned how many trees he would have to plant to neutralize its CO2 emissions – 1.4 hectares (nearly 3.5 acres) of trees!!! This fact gave every car owner in the Village serious food for thought and inspiration for change.

We also learned that Environment Canada recommends a minimum tree cover of 30% for adequate water quantity and quality. Currently in Wellington County only 17% of the land is forested! We learned that at the rate at which we are currently planting within Wellington County we will meet our minimum tree coverage in approximately 500 years! What more urgent incentive to plant trees.

  • Sequestration Survey: Dr. Gordon is co-ordinating a group of University of Guelph students to assess how much CO2 the Village of Eden Mills absorbs. He will also advise the Village on improving the ratio with appropriate density and species.
  • In Eden Mills we had understood that we needed to plant more trees. We had not understood the scale of planting that would be required to keep up with our emissions. Nevertheless, we began by celebrating Earth Day 2008 with a major tree-planting initiative, organized by the Youth Group. We planted 2,250 trees in the Village with the help of Wellington County’s Green Legacy, the County’s tree nursery. Residents ordered trees by species, and the Youth Group planted more on public land. More…
  • The Youth Group added some fun to Earth Day by organizing arts and craft workshops related to the environment.
  • At Rockwood Centennial, the youngest students planted 5000 seeds in pots, the junior students transplanted 20,000 seedlings and the oldest students planted 1400 trees at local farms.
  • The school bus driver who brings students to Edgewood Camp in Eden Mills for C.E.L.P. (Community Environmental Leadership Programs) decided his bus should be carbon neutral. He organized the students who rode with him to plant trees equivalent to the bus emissions for one year. More buses have followed his example. More…
  • Given the huge imbalance between the number of trees in the County and the number required to protect this environment, a major new collaboration is underway in 2008-9 with Wellington Green Legacy and the Upper Grand District School Board. Over 5000 students from approximately 20 elementary and secondary schools are planting seeds in their classrooms or planting trees at the nursery and local farms.
  • See short Green Legacy video …

In Eden Mills we recognize that we must act on all fronts at once. While tree planting can make a big difference, it cannot catch up with the current CO2 emissions. We must also continue to reduce and replace fossil fuels in our lives.