Islanders who lost trees to Dorian could benefit from tree-planting campaign

A national tree-planting charity hopes to help Prince Edward Islanders who lost trees in post-tropical storm Dorian.

Tree Canada launched Operation ReLeaf after the 1996 flooding in Saguenay, Que.

"We've been in Fort McMurray for several years helping replant after the forest fires there, we were in Quebec helping after the ice storm, in Ottawa and Gatineau after the tornado," said Jennifer Feschuk, community engagement and education officer for Tree Canada.

"It's a critical program from what we've been seeing with climate change and lots of natural disasters affecting the trees of our communities."

Working with municipalities

Feschuk said Tree Canada started receiving calls immediately after Dorian swept through Atlantic Canada.

Laura Meader/CBC

Now the group is launching a fundraising campaign to support a replanting program next spring, working with municipalities across the Island.

"As soon as the municipalities have assessed the damage and have an idea of how many trees were lost and what it would take to replant those trees then we reach out to them," Feschuk said.

"We start developing a plan for how to get more trees in the ground."

Nancy Stordy Callbeck/Facebook

The program, she said, is meant for private-property owners who have been affected by Dorian and have lost a tree or several trees.

Once the fundraising campaign is complete, Tree Canada will launch the program on their website and residents can apply. 

Travis Kingdon/CBC

"You know, tell us a little bit about the damage that was done," Feschuk said. "Then we would issue them funds in order to go and replant on their property."

Feschuk said the organization has advisers on P.E.I. that will help select the right species for their property, figure out where to plant and assist in getting the trees in the ground.

Big tree, big price tag

Feschuk said it's hard to say right now how many trees will be planted on P.E.I., as that depends on how much money is raised.

"The more money that we can get, the more assistance we can offer," Feschuk said.

"Again it all depends on how much funding we can get because, as you can imagine, the bigger a tree is, the more expensive it is."

Tom Steepe/CBC

Feschuk said Operation ReLeaf has made a difference in communities such as Fort McMurray.

"It's really helped to bring the community back to life and just offer a sense of hope. Trees do offer a lot of normalcy in people's lives," Feschuk said.

"Without them there, you really notice the barren landscape. So we really feel that the program is critical, especially in times of climate change, when these types of disasters are more and more — sad to say — commonplace."

Brian Higgins/CBC

The replanting campaign on P.E.I. is planned for spring 2020.

Feschuk is on P.E.I. to celebrate a new legacy forest of 100 trees, planted along the North River Causeway on Upton Farmlands property, as part of CN's 100th anniversary. 

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