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10 billion trees planted in B.C. since reforestation work began 94 years ago

A ceremonial seedling was planted at Green Timbers Urban Forest Park in Surrey
A sign at Green Timbers Urban Forest Park in Surrey shows the site of B.C.’s inaugural forest replanting efforts in 1930. (Photo:

The B.C. government says 10 billion trees have been planted in the province since reforestation programs began way back in 1930, in Surrey.

Two billion of those trees have been planted over the past seven years, according to forest minister Bruce Ralston, MLA for Surrey-Whalley.

Last year, close to 305 million seedlings were planted in B.C. forests including the 10-billionth since that work began almost a century ago. In honour of the milestone, Ralston planted a ceremonial tree at Green Timbers Urban Forest Park, considered the “birthplace of reforestation” in the province.

• RELATED STORY, from 2021: Green Timbers’ inaugural plantation began ‘cultural shift’ in B.C.

Throughout B.C., Ralston said, people are seeing the impacts of climate change on our forests and an acceleration of tree-planting efforts.

“Ten billion seedlings planted is a remarkable achievement in making sure our forests are with us for generations to come,” Ralston said in a news release Monday, April 15.

“It’s easy to get lost in the number, but there’s a very human story here, too. Planting 10 billion trees means 10 billion carefully wielded shovels by 20 billion hands across almost 100 years. This is an accomplishment we can all be proud of, and it’s an honour to play a small part in that number by planting this tree today.”

Included in the 10 billion trees is a milestone from the Ministry of Forests’ BC Timber Sales, marking its one-billionth tree planted since the organization was founded in 2003.

In Surrey’s Green Timbers area, B.C.’s reforestation efforts began 94 years ago in Surrey with the “inaugural plantation” there. Back in 1928, local residents protested the proposed logging of the area, but concerns were ignored and the entire 2,000-acre forest was chopped down.

Chastised, the provincial government of the time looked to make amends by setting aside 640 acres along the highway (now Fraser Highway) to be replanted as B.C.’s first reforestation project. And so, in 1930, the death of the last old-growth trees in the area led to an awakening of sorts, with a new forest given life in the heart of the municipality.

On March 15 that year, on land cleared by locals Harry Baker and John Tompson, government and business officials gathered to plant 120 Douglas fir, Sikta spruce, Western red cedar and Monterey pine seedlings, each numbered and assigned a name. Heritage signs and storyboards now mark the plantation site, a short walk from Surrey Nature Centre, 14225 Green Timbers Way.

B.C. aims to plan another 50 million trees this year through provincial and federal programs. These initiatives focus reforestation efforts on areas that have been adversely affected by natural disturbances, such as mountain pine beetle infestations and wildfire.

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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