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Canada has only planted 29 million of the 2 billion trees promised by 2030

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OTTAWA -

The federal government is two years and just 29 million trees into its campaign promise to plant two billion trees by 2030, coming in below the goal it set last year.

During the 2019 campaign, the Liberals committed to planting two billion trees this decade, but so far are falling short at nearly 1.5 per cent of the end goal, something they attribute to the years it takes to grow seedlings that can then be planted.

Despite this, Natural Resources Canada says the government is on track, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lauded the project at a tree planting event in Sudbury on Thursday.

Trudeau was joined by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault and anthropologist and primatologist Jane Goodall to celebrate the area’s re-greening efforts and plant the city’s 10 millionth tree.

The prime minister called projects like the one in Sudbury an “integral part” of how the government can reach its tree planting goal.

Spread out over the 10-year commitment, the government would need to plant an additional 200 million trees a year beyond current tallies. That’s nearly 548,000 trees a day, however, tree planting is a seasonal effort and can’t be done year-round, instead taking place during four to five months of the year.

Natural Resources Canada set out to put 30 million seedlings in the ground last year, in partnership with organizations and projects vetted by an expert panel.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson called the 2021 planting season a “success” in a statement released last month.

“We have achieved 97 percent of our planting target and are on track to plant two billion trees over the course of 10 years,” he wrote.

Wilkinson said the government now plans to sign longer-term partnerships so it can ramp up planting between 250 and 350 trees a year by 2026. The lower planting targets in the next few years are meant to account for the time it takes to grow a seedling enough to be planted.

“The program is working to build a strong foundation by focusing on long-term agreements with tree-planting organizations that will in turn fuel stable demand on nurseries,” wrote Keean Nembhard, a spokesperson for the minister of natural resources, in an email to CTVNews.ca on Thursday.

“As contribution agreements are signed and purchase orders are made, nurseries will be able to invest in infrastructure and seedling production,” he added.

The goal of the two-billion-tree target, according to the government, is to boost both climate change efforts and the economy, creating thousands of jobs while reaping the benefits of two billion more trees in the environment.

A Parliamentary Budget Office report from January stated the plan to plant two billion trees by 2030 would cost nearly double what the Liberals budgeted.

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