Clarington initiated the Trees for Rural Roads (TRR) program in 2012 to help restore the historical rural roadside tree canopy and the natural beauty of Clarington’s rural landscapes. The program is an important contributor to replacing century-old trees throughout the Municipality that are dying from old age, exposure to extreme wind and storm events, insects, and disease. The program supports tree canopy restoration and wildlife habitat, climate change mitigation, local history preservation and community engagement.
Each spring, trees are offered free of charge to rural residents to be planted by the landowner on their private property adjacent to municipal roadways. Participants have their choice of a selection of native tree species and must adhere to a set of program guidelines. Support is provided to ensure appropriate tree species selection, placement and planting.
Trees for Rural Roads is carried out in partnership with Central Lake Ontario and Ganaraska Region Conservation Authorities. In addition to Municipal budget allocation, the program is made possible through the generous support of funding partners, including Maple Leaves Forever and the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign.
Since 2012, nearly 8,000 native trees have been distributed to rural property owners in Clarington and the average yearly survival rate reaches 70 to 75 percent.
Analysis completed by EcoBusiness Network in 2018 assessed the carbon reduction value of the Clarington Trees for Rural Roads program. Between 2012 and 2017, it was estimated that 165 tCO2e (metric tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent) was diverted by the trees planted. As the planted trees continue to age and more trees are added each year, it was further estimated that the TRR program would divert an estimated 4,090 tCO2e by 2027, which is equivalent to the emissions generated by 340 individuals over the course of a year. At the same time, the restoration of rural road foliage in Clarington will enhance the region and benefit residents and wildlife in the area.