Chet Greason, email@example.com
Green space is a hot topic these days, and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) is encouraging the trend, especially for rural properties.
It's offering a grant program, covering 50-100 per cent of the cost to area landowners to help fund tree planting initiatives on their properties.
"Numerous road closures, multi-car pileups, higher home energy costs, and snow covered with top soil demonstrate the need for more windbreaks," reads a press release circulated by the organization.
In a follow up interview, UTRCA forester John Enright said trees can offer a myriad of protections to rural properties. Planted beside a road, they can act as a windbreak and prevent excessive drifting. Planted beside a field, trees can help stop the wind from blowing away the top soil. Fields with windbreaks around them also tend to exhibit higher crop yields.
"When the plant is more sheltered and protected, it can put more energy into growing instead of just sustaining itself," he said, adding sheltered fields can see yield increases of between 10-30 per cent.
Trees planted beside homes and barns can also reduce energy consumption and cut heating costs by an estimated 30 per cent.
"This winter, with such cold temperatures and so much wind, anyone with a windbreak around their house surely benefited," Enright said. "Trees reduce pressure, drafts, and keep the wind from taking the heat from your house. We have a pretty well-insulated house, but you can notice, on a windy day, the difference in temperature."
Enright said the UTRCA works with rural landowners, beginning with a visit to the property to advise on what's needed and to make recommendations free of charge. Should a property owner be interested in planting windbreaks, the conservation authority brings in hundreds of trees every spring to be made available for subsidized purchase. They'll even deliver the trees and plant them themselves.
While orders have already been processed, with this year's crop of saplings currently being delivered, work has already begun on next year's batch. Enright encourages anyone interested to contact the UTRCA. Site visits can be conducted during summer and autumn, with new trees delivered next spring. Landowners are advised to act quickly, though, as there's a waiting list for trees.