December 15, 2012
By Phil Charal
LO President

phil charal I had the great privilege of attending the Trees for Life launch on Nov. 2 at the Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.

Trees for Life was formed in 2011 by Mark Cullen, who is as most of us know a horticultural expert. The organization was formed in response to the threats that modern times place on the sustainability of the urban forest in Toronto region. Some of these threats include the emerald ash borer and reduced municipal budgets.

The goal of Trees for Life is to double the urban forest canopy in the Greater Toronto Area by 2050. The Trees for Life objectives include:
  • To coordinate activities and resources of not-for-profit organizations  that are dedicated to planting trees and maintenance
  • To solicit funds from government and private sources, which will be invested into into the urban forest and ensure that the monetary investment is maximized
  • To take a proactive role in legislative and government matters  and work with the government to affect changes that benefit the urban forest
  • To uphold strong governance policies to ensure a clear message of transparency, accountability and commitment to the planting, protection and maintenance of the urban forest
  • To communicate and educate the public on the core messages of urban forestry, including the societal, economic, health and environmental benefits of the urban forest
As momentum builds in this initiative, Trees for Life is identifying the need for administrative, financial and donor support, as well as areas suitable for planting that can meet the goal for increased urban forest cover.

The Trees for Life launch was a very impressive and important event for a number of reasons. This tree planting event at Archbishop Romero school involved the planting of 82 mature native trees throughout the property. It was great to see the involvement of so many people. The principal, teachers, politicians, local residents, and last, but not least, some of our Landscape Ontario members were all in attendance.

I am always so proud and impressed when I see the willingness and devotion that our members have to promote and be fully engaged in supporting horticultural events that improve and help our green infrastructure. I have seen this happen with a number of initiatives over the past few years. The Nov. 2 tree planting was no exception.

This event would not have been possible without the support and direct involvement of Jeff Olsen of Brookland Treeland Nurseries in Schomberg, Jorg Hermanns of Hermanns Contracting in Schomberg, Cathal Boyd of Shamrock Garden in Mississauga, Rob Crysdale of Landcare in Toronto and Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of Landscape Ontario. It was also supported by the Friends of the Environment, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Black Creek Conservation Project, Toronto Botanical Garden and the City of Toronto.

I am sure we are all aware of the declining state of Toronto’s tree canopy, making the evolution of Trees for Life excellent timing.

On behalf of our great association, I am very proud to share Mark Cullen’s passion for the Trees for Life initiative. I truly hope the goal to double the urban forest canopy in the GTA can be met by 2050. What a great legacy to leave the next generation.
Phil Charal may be reached at