In her letter to the Editor (The North Dundas Times, January 13, 2021) Janice Videto was certainly correct in enumerating the benefits and services provided by trees. Many, if not most, of these benefits and services are enjoyed by all of us, no matter where we live or where the trees are growing. By absorbing carbon dioxide, as pointed out by Janice, trees represent one of the most efficient and effective ways of combatting global warming. In addition to tree planting programs for public lands, governments are increasingly encouraging and providing financial assistance to landowners to plant trees on their land. It is ironic, however, that while there seems to be money available to plant new trees, there seems to be none available to save mature trees already growing. One only has to drive a short distance around North Dundas to see the devastation being inflicted on the few trees we have by farmers seeking to grow more corn. It is very sad to see and our first reaction is to blame the farmers. However, they aren’t the root of the problem.
The problem is that while all of us benefit from the presence of the trees on the farmers’ property, only the farmer pays for them to be there by being denied the income he could realize by removing them and growing more crops. In other words, we are willing to pay him for his crops but not willing to pay him for his trees. This has to change. The services provided by the farmers’ trees clearly have value to society as a whole, and we should be prepared to pay for this. The value of these services should be determined and the farmer should be offered payment for them or, conversely, he should be compensated for the crop revenue he would give up by retaining the trees. At least then, his decision to retain or remove the trees will be made with the benefit of complete information. As things are presently, with his trees being seen as having no value, it is easy and understandable to sympathize with his decision to remove them. While I have referred to farmers in this manner, because they highlight the problem in North Dundas, any landowner who depends upon revenue from his land should be treated in the same way.
Again referring to Janice’s letter, I agree that we need to point out the errors in the present situation to our elected representatives, and urge them to act to save the few trees we have left in this area.