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North Okanagan-Shuswap students to plant 7,600 trees for Earth Day

There is also a tree giveaway in Vernon and a Green Fair in Armstrong April 22
Students at A.L. Fortune Secondary School in Enderby planted 75 trees in honour of Earth Day on April 22, 2022. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

There will be no shortage of trees to plant on Earth Day in the Shuswap and North Okanagan.

Earth Day is on Saturday, April 22, and School District 83 is marking the occasion by providing about 7,600 conifer plugs for kids to take home and plant.

The trees will be given out at schools on Friday, April 21. The trees are donated by the Forest Nursery Association of British Columbia and arranged by Kalamalka Forestry Research Station. The trees are overruns from seedlings grown by nurseries around the province for reforestation by forestry companies.

Kim Fulton, a retired principal and environmental educator for School District 83, helped to organize the tree delivery to schools. He said kids should talk to their parents about where to plant their tree, keeping in mind it will grow so it’s best not to place it too close to buildings or sidewalks. He said a place where it can get natural water is ideal, and partial shade is fine. Decent soil is also an asset for growing a healthy conifer.

Fulton points to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) estimation that one mature tree provides enough oxygen for four people for one year.

“So for example, in the 7,600 trees that we’re planting, in 50 years they will produce enough oxygen for 30,000 people. That’s enough for a whole town,” he said.

Fulton also notes the cooling benefits of trees. The EPA says an urban area with a tree canopy can be 10 to 25 degrees cooler than an area without a tree canopy.

“In the big scheme of things we save energy on the cooling, running air conditioners and stuff like that. It’s natural cooling,” Fulton said.

The school district’s initiative is called Trees of Hope, which Fulton says reflects the way planting trees can act as a salve for climate anxiety.

“There’s so many stresses on all of us including young people due to climate change and different disasters that are happening, that planting a tree really makes people feel good,” Fulton said. “I have over 40 or 50 years of doing this and I’ve never seen a kid who didn’t enjoy planting a tree. And adults too.”

Fulton says Earth Day is about looking into the future and considering what a person can do for the next generation, and this Earth Day is about more than planting trees.

“There’s no panacea, we still all have to be careful about how much we consume and how much we drive around in cars and all that energy stuff.”

Fulton used to think planting trees was all about providing habitat for animals, “but what it boils down to now for me is I believe the Earth would heal fine and fairly quickly if humans weren’t here, so I’m really doing this now to ensure that the human race continues to exist on the planet.

“My grandson comes to mind.”

Meanwhile in Vernon, on Earth Day, the Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) will have 2,000 coniferous trees to give away free of charge, courtesy of BC Forestry. The trees will be located outside the Museum and Archives of Vernon starting at 10 a.m. April 22.

“This is the third time we’ve done this,” said SENS director John Barling, who wrote BC Hydro’s original booklet on solar energy back in 1984. “(Trees) are a great absorber of carbon dioxide … and obviously they give off oxygen too.”

In Armstrong, April 22 will mark the 17th annual Green Fair hosted by the Armstrong Spallumcheen Environmental Trust (ASET). The Green Fair will take place at the Armstrong fairgrounds from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Dave Derbowka, president of ASET, says about 25 organizations will be set up with booths at the fairgrounds. Those organizations include Code Blue, Scouts Canada, Friends of Rose Swanson, the Armstrong Spallumcheen Trails Society and other environmentally minded companies, including ones that provide solar power and grow organic mushrooms.

Runaway Moon Theatre will be present to run a parade of trees, and Pleasant Valley Secondary School students will have green cookies on hand.

“The Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, so we’re ready to go,” Derbowka said. He added his own company, Passive Remediation Systems Inc., will also be at the Green Fair.

He says there are a number of things he hopes people will learn from the event, including the fact that “we have utilized a resource called fossil fuel and we’ve simply removed carbon from the ground and moved it up into the air. So it is still a resource and we need to handle that accordingly and then we can save ourselves quite nicely.”

Derbowka says solar power is “probably going to be the way of the future” and is glad to have some solar companies on hand to discuss the technology with guests.

Derbowka has owned an electric car for eight years, and aside from the environmental benefits, he quite enjoys driving past gas stations.

“It’s good for everybody if we can adapt to the planet a little better,” he said.

READ MORE: Residents challenged to tidy up Enderby

READ MORE: Want to be a tree?: Runaway Moon’s Earth Day plans for Shuswap rooted in woods

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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