“Our forests are in need of a lot of love, and it will take a lot of work to bring them back,” said Ambioterra’s Stéphane Gingras during the official launch of the organization’s new regional nursery, the Pépinière régionale du Suroît, on October 21 in Hemmingford.
The nursery is the result of a partnership between Ambioterra, the Terkivi farm in Hemmingford, Forêt Santé, and the Centre for Forestry Studies and Professor Daniel Kneeshaw of the department of biological sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Its goal is the reforestation of the region using trees native to the area.
The project was funded in part with financial support from the Bourses d’initiative en entrepreneuriat collectif (BIEC) de la Montérégie, and the Caisse d’économie solidaire through its Fonds de transition socio-écologique, as well as donations from several foundations.
“Trees and forest soils absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. In doing so, they become reservoirs of this gas,” Gingras said, while explaining that in this context, “It is just as important to reforest and restore trees in agricultural areas as it is to maintain existing woodlands and forests.” This, in a nutshell, reflects the logic behind Ambioterra’s “My Tree, My Forest, My Future!” campaign, which was launched in conjunction with the unveiling of the nursery site.
“This is a very concrete project,” said the president of Ambioterra, Karel Ménard, while highlighting the positive impacts of the nursery which has the capacity to produce 15,000 trees per year. The nursery was also built using responsible materials with sustainability in mind. “Our new nursery will run on solar energy,” he noted, while explaining that the greenhouse is irrigated with collected rainwater.
“The new technology used for irrigation (Aquamats) allows us to save a lot of water, because the plants only take the amount of water they need (through capillarity),” he continued. Once the trees have germinated in the nursery, they are transferred to the Aquamats, which are controlled by solar-powered sensors.
The seeds germinated in the nursery have been collected from forests in the region, largely by forest engineer and Havelock resident David Lemieux Bibeau. He noted that the decision to germinate seeds from trees that are already adapted to this region’s climate will give the saplings the best chance at survival. Ambioterra and its partners are focusing exclusively on deciduous trees at this time, as trees with leaves are better suited to capturing carbon, and because the Suroît region is not naturally forested by conifers.
For Kneeshaw, the value of the nursery and its long-term goal of reforestation is the emphasis that is being placed on protecting native trees. He explained there are several species of tree that were once quite dominant in the region, and that these happen to be varieties that commercial nurseries do not produce. “The hope is that our grandchildren will never know that some trees were once endangered,” he said.
Some of the tree species that will eventually be available at the regional nursery include yellow birch, red oak, black cherry, bur oak, sugar maples, red maples, and black walnut, as well as white spruce and red pine. The nursery will focus on producing between three and four species per year. Gingras expects it will take two years, if not more, to have the nursery running at full capacity. In the meantime, Ambioterra is working on a website that will enable online purchasing.
Gingras explained that the organization will be tracking all the trees it distributes and mapping their locations as well as their impact. This emphasis on tracking is not new. Ambioterra has worked with 35 property owners since 2014 on different initiatives that have resulted in 3,635 trees being planted within agricultural zones. They have also already planted more than 10,000 shrubs, as farmers tend to prefer introducing shrubs to their properties over trees. Each tree sequesters at least 24kg of atmospheric carbon dioxide per year, meaning that the trees planted thus far by Ambioterra will sequester more than 9000 tonnes of carbon over their lifespan.
To learn more about the “My Tree, My Forest, My Future!” campaign, or the regional nursery, contact Ambioterra online at email@example.com, or via their Facebook page or website: www.ambioterra.org.