Since 1998, TELUS and Tree Canada have partnered together to plant over 600,000 trees greening communities and schoolyards, restoring urban and rural forests, and bringing fruit and nuts to communities in the form of edible trees – all with a shared goal of growing better places to live, and for TELUS specifically, supporting communities where they live and work.

At TELUS, they believe that doing well in business also involves doing good in our communities and part of that includes caring for the planet that our children will inherit. They support environmental stewardship projects and have created self-imposed goals to reduce their environmental footprint. In addition to providing paperless e-billing options to suppliers and customers as part of their paper reduction efforts, their Trees for paper program, a program born from their vision of minimizing the environmental impact of their paper use, is another way they are reducing their footprint overall. As part of the program, TELUS has committed to planting enough trees in Canada each year through Tree Canada’s National Greening program which, through the trees’ growth over time, will compensate the biomass used for the production of TELUS’ annual paper use.

The program’s inception started back in 2018 when Tree Canada received a call from TELUS asking how many trees had to be cut down to make the paper they used each year. I used the Environmental Paper Network’s Paper Calculator[1] which helped to determine the footprint and the wood volume by using industry averages and estimations. I adjusted the tree growth estimations to reflect the slower growth in Canada’s forest, and through this we determined that for every 14 reams of paper TELUS used, a tree should be planted.

In its first year in 2018, the Trees for paper program planted 48,600 trees to restore land owned by the Manitoba Wildlife Federation Habitat Foundation.  The Foundation received the land from an inheritance and worked with Tree Canada and TELUS to restore forest cover and ecosystem connectivity through multi-row wildlife corridors and forest belts.

In 2019, the program planted 53,741 trees to restore the forest cover on the reserve lands of the Yunesit’in First Nation in British Colombia, 97 km west of Williams Lake.   The reserve was burned in a fire in 2017 and showed very little regeneration, so by planting pine, fir, spruce and cottonwood trees, the project hopes to restore native forest cover and areas around streams and creeks.

Looking to next year, the program will return to Manitoba for its third year! This time the program will support the restoration of the reserve lands of the Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation to restore the forest cover and part of the watershed in their territory. The planting will provide wildlife habitat, improve some of the hydrological functions the forest once had, create windbreaks, as well as offer some recreational opportunities for the reserve.

It is great to work on these projects with TELUS as I know these trees will grow into forests for decades to come and over time, they will bring immeasurable benefits. Every new project is like a snowball whereby the benefits of past projects build on the previous ones, continuing to have more and more of a positive impact on the environment, and on the very people of the communities that reside there. Not only will these trees sequester carbon – a natural solution to fighting climate change, but they will provide habitat for wildlife in turn increasing biodiversity, they will improve moisture retention and reduce soil erosion and they will provide positive recreational and education opportunities for the people in the surrounding communities and ensure we have clean air, water and soil for generations to come.

Although the only and first solution to combating climate change is reducing our footprint and our overall consumption, conserving and restoring our forests across the country can buy us time through sequestering some of our pollution. The fact that Tree Canada gets to work with organizations like TELUS, which is striving to do both, only shows how great partnerships can together grow better places to live.

[1] Environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 4.0. For more information visit www.papercalculator.org.