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Earth Day sees 200 trees distributed, 100 more planted in Amherstburg

Updated: 2 days ago

Volunteers planting trees

Earth Day was observed in Amherstburg over the weekend with trees given away and others planted into the ground.

Volunteers from the University of Windsor’s School of the Environment and staff with the Town of Amherstburg helped distributed 200 trees free-of-charge as part of a partnership known as the “Map & Grow” program. Vehicles lined up along a laneway on the Libro Centre property, picked species of trees they wanted and had them loaded in the back of the vehicle.

“It’s going great,” said director of parks, facilities and recreation Heidi Baillargeon. “We had people lined up about an hour early for the tree giveaway.”

The tree giveaway was sponsored by Jack’s Organics.

University of Windsor students will visit homes to GPS plot the trees on the town map and monitor their growth over time. To participate in the program, residents agreed to grant ongoing access to researchers. Trees were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies lasted.

“We’re going to go out with students to their geographic locations,” said university professor Dr. Alice Grgicak-Mannion

Grgicak-Mannion added they will possibly use the trees as pollution monitors, as they look at the town’s tree canopy and track pollutants that fall on the leaves.

Town council was recently given an update on the Map & Grow program, with Grgicak-Mannion joined by students Danielle Bohn, Quentin Maini and Brian Kountourogiannis.

The program starts each year before Earth Day by tagging each tree with metal tags with a unique ID number and the team records height and diameter.

Data is then compiled into a spreadsheet and that acted as the foundation for its geo-database. They contacted each participant and set up a time to go to the homes to check on the trees and precisely upload co-ordinates to the geo-database. No private information of the residents who participate is disclosed publicly, Bohn said.

Town council was told last month that a total of 365 trees were given away to that point, said Bohn, with 237 being mapped. Of the 237, 222 have been deemed healthy. Of the trees excluded from the survey, Bohn said some trees did not survive, there was an inability to contact some participants, others who moved away or those who simply didn’t want to participate further.

Future works include completing validation of all tree data, incorporating their geo-database into the town’s GIS, conducting further comparison analysis on tree measurements between years, start planning the tree giveaway event with the town and start planning next year’s field excursions to already planted trees and the logging of new trees.

Species of trees given away last Saturday included Pagoda Dogwood, Eastern Redbud, Tulip, Red Oak and Red Maple trees.

The volunteer tree planting took place next door at the Amherstburg dog park. A total of 100 trees were planted by about 25 volunteers. Members of the Rotary Club of Amherstburg were among the volunteers with acting president Susanne Rainhard stating the club always looks for ways to be helpful.

“We want to be hands-on,” she said. “There is more to Rotary than just handing a cheque out.”Rainhard added the Rotary volunteers enjoyed being out with others who were giving back.

“It’s nice to see everyone getting out,” she said.

By Ron Giofu

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