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Gary and Jill C., Oshawa (north), ON

"We became involved in the program in an effort to support, not only the environment, but also the entire program. Our direct involvement with Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority was fantastic, easy and reflected the exact values that we were respecting. The planting went smoothly, evaluation of the trees, survival rates, and everyone’s involvement and commitment lead to the best process and outcome we could have anticipated. Everyone involved, not only has been positive, but continues to be  reflected in the values and stories we share as we watch the trees mature."
Snowy forest


Durham Region and its five local Conservation Authorities—Central Lake Ontario, Ganaraska Region, Kawartha, Lake Simcoe Region, and Toronto and Region —have collaborated to form TREES, a new subsidized tree-planting program for private landowners willing to plant at least 2 acres with a minimum of 500 trees.


Recognizing the numerous benefits of trees, this Climate Action Initiative is a nature-based solution, with the goal of environmental management, protection and enhancement by increasing forest cover in the Region by over 30%. 


Funding for this program comes from Durham Region and conservation partners.




TREE planting for future forests.


RESILIENT, to mitigate

the impacts of climate change.


ENSURE a healthy future for the surrounding community.


ENHANCE natural connections across our watersheds.


SAVING our planet, one tree at a time.

Why and What

What will my forest look like?

Seedlings provided through TREES are 2-4 years old and approximately 20-30 cm tall.

When starting a forest, Conifers are typically planted first as they tend to be hardier.  As they grow, they create an easier environment for other species of trees to join the forest.  It takes about 50 years before a conifer-based plantation forest begins to diversify and it takes about 100 years, with good forest management, for a conifer plantation to reach its ultimate goal of a mixed coniferous-deciduous blend. 


The investment that you are making today, will benefit you, but will be an even greater benefit to future generations!

What species of trees will I get?

Due to their hardiness, seedlings provided through TREES are mainly conifers. If there is no nearby seed source to add to forest diversity, some hardwood species (10%) will also be included. 

Conifer species include:

  • White Spruce

  • Eastern White Pine

  • White Cedar

  • Red Pine

  • Tamarack

*Non-native European Larch and Norway Spruce, are occasionally used in extremely dry sites or roadway plantings as they are tolerant of winter road salt.


Deciduous species include:

  • Red Maple

  • Sugar Maple

  • Silver Maple

  • Red Oak

  • Burr Oak

  • White Oak

  • Hackberry


Species availability depends on seed collection and propagation success.


The Program


of property in Durham Region is privately owned.


of the Durham Region's landbase is Rural.


trees to be planted over the next three years.

The Program

Does my property qualify?

If you have 0.8 hectares (two acres)* or more to plant in Durham Region, we can help you establish a new forest; connect or enlarge your existing woodlot; establish a windbreak along the edge of your property; plant along stream banks or seasonally wet areas such as pond perimeters, marshes and wetlands; plant an understory in an existing forest; or planting marginal farmland.

*If you don’t qualify for this Program, contact us anyway to see what other tree-planting programs are available. 

Financial incentives

Our program offers up to 85% of funding for eligible projects, full planting services, and native tree seedlings. Your property will be planted either by hand or machine, depending on the site. Tending and maintenance schedules will be provided for ensuring a successful project. With over 50 years of planting and forest management experience, our professionally trained staff will help you every step of the way: from funding assistance, to planning and planting, to tending your growing forest.

What's in it for you ?

Your new trees will:

   increase your property value;

    provide an opportunity to qualify for a property tax reduction of up to 75% with the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (the property tax on your forested land could be reduced by up to 75% of the municipal residential property tax rate); increase privacy; reduce home energy costs by providing shade and shelter; reduce mowing and maintenance; protect and improve water quality in streams and
ponds on your property;
transform open fields into forests; create habitat for pollinators, birds and other wildlife; develop a sense of well-being through your contribution to the natural environment.

How Does it Work?

How Does it Work?

If you live in Durham Region, you live within one of five jurisdictions managed by a Conservation Authority.  Using the Program mapping tool (accessed by clicking the 'Dig in!' button below), enter your address in the 'Search' field to identify your Conservation Authority.  Complete the online form and your Conservation Authority's Tree Planting Expert will contact you to discuss your TREES opportunity.

Planting New Trees

From seed to forest - the journey 

To fully understand the time and resources that go into the growing and planting of trees, it is important to understand the process, from start to finish. This includes a timeline of events and activities that range from initial seed forecasting to final tree installation, with many steps along the way. In fact, if we include the monitoring and tending of these trees post-planting, we would be looking at a timeline which could potentially become indefinite given the fact that forest establishment takes place over several decades and forest management is ongoing. To keep things simple, this information focuses on the steps required up to and including getting the tree seedlings planted in the ground. 

1. Seed Sourcing

2. Seed Collection

The first step in the process involves the sourcing of seed.  The Province of Ontario has a network of Certified Seed Collectors (CSC) who have the knowledge and expertise to identify sites that contain appropriate native seed that can later be collected and provided to growers to propagate and grow into young seedlings.

With diligent seed sourcing and crop forecasting, the CSC will collect the seed using the proper handling and storage techniques that they have learned through the Ontario’s Natural Selections (ONS) certification program.

3. Seed Transfer

Using the Ontario Seed Transfer Policy developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to provide high-level guidance and other technical resources such as the Tree Seed Database provided by Forests Ontario as well as technical advice from Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA).

4. Seed Processing

Every species of tree seed has a unique genetic adaptation that makes it successful becoming established as a tree. The growers will apply the appropriate treatment to each species to prepare the seeds for germination in the nursery.

5. Seedling Production

Growers will sow the processed seed into either seedbeds that are prepared in the field or into plug trays that contain cells to accommodate individual tree seeds. The seed will germinate and the grower will care for the young seedlings until they have undergone at least one growing season in the nursery.

6. Seedling Harvest

Field grown stock is harvested early in the spring as soon as the ground is thawed enough for the seedlings to be ‘lifted’ from the ground. Seedlings are held at winter-like temperatures and kept in a dormant condition before being transplanted back into the ground at planting time.

7. Outreach

8. Site Visit

While the tree seedlings are being prepared in the nursery, Planting Delivery Agents (PDA) are on the ground visiting with rural landowners who have expressed interest in planting trees on their properties. 

PDAs will arrange a site visit to look at the potential project and discuss the landowner’s objectives for the project. At this time, the PDA will assess the site, determine the area to be planted and prescribe the appropriate species.

9. Planting Plan Prep

The PDA will prepare a Planting Plan using all the information gathered during the site visit.  This information will determine the number of trees to be planted, the proposed species composition, the spacing of the trees, and the tending that will be conducted after planting takes place. 

10. Seedling Purchase

11. Tree Planting

Seedling purchases are completed as far in advance of the planting as possible with most stock orders due before the end of February of the year that the planting is scheduled to take place. 

PDA’s and/or tree-planting contractors schedule staff and equipment needed to conduct the work in the early spring, between mid-April and the end of May to ensure that the seedlings are transplanted quickly after being lifted and do not sit in cold storage for too long. Trees will be planted either by hand or with a machine according to the planting prescription prepared by the PDA.

12. Tending

The PDA will often prescribe some type of tending before or shortly after the tree planting occurs to help give the young seedlings a good start. The tending usually consists of a combination of mowing and/or herbicide application to keep 'competition' down while the young trees get established.

13. Monitoring

Monitoring is conducted on a representative sample of trees on each planting project to assess planting quality. Projects are assessed for survival two years and five years after the trees were planted. 

These steps cover the process from seed sourcing to the planting and preliminary monitoring of tree seedlings planted under a typical Afforestation project.  This is just the beginning!  As the project matures and the trees get established, a new chapter in Forest Management begins…

Community Benefits
Young girl on father's shoulders walking through growing trees/forest
  • Climate Change
    Planting trees is a piece of the solution to addressing the effects of drought, flooding, and invasive species that we are experiencing because of climate change. They also act as carbon sinks, directly removing carbon dioxide from the air. A mature tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide each year! As forests naturally capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they store it as carbon in live trees, downed woody debris, and in the soil. This carbon can be stored for decades and even centuries in living trees or in durable wood products like furniture or building frames until it is released again when vegetation either decays or is burned. It makes tremendous sense to plant more trees for our future generations, when we know we need to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Green Infrastructure
    Trees are one of nature’s most powerful, and cost-effective energy savers and water and air purifiers!
  • Heating/Cooling
    One of the key contributors to urban heat islands is the removal of vegetation. Trees provide shade and stop the absorption of solar energy below the canopy, resulting in cooler surface and air temperatures.
  • Maintenance
    Forests help ease the burden of managing snow, rain and other wet-weather flow by intercepting falling precipitation in their canopy, increasing the amount of water absorbed into the ground, and reducing soil erosion.
  • Economic
    Urban forests provide each resident with $125 savings per annum worth of environmental benefits and cost savings each year. [There would similar savings on rural properties.]
  • Property Value
    Forests increase the value of properties for resale and improve the curb appeal for a prospective buyer. They can also reduce property taxes if landowners apply for and qualify for the Managed Tax Forest Incentive Program
  • Human Health
    Trees help to reduce smog and pollution in our cities by filtering out many airborne pollutants that have negative impacts on our health. These pollutants have been linked to heart disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and cancer. Forests and green spaces have conclusively been linked to a significant decline in stress, improved rehabilitation, faster hospital recovery rates, and a decrease in the severity of symptoms in attention deficit disorder.
  • Air Quality
    Forests produce oxygen, absorb air pollutants, and capture particulate matter like dust, ash, dirt and pollen in their canopy.
  • Recreational
    Forests also provide increased aesthetic qualities for trails, outdoor recreation, biking, hiking, wildlife viewing etc.
  • Ecological
    Trees provide an ecological benefit for building resilience and a robust natural heritage system.

Funding Partner

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