Vineland, Ontario – Ontario’s highways will look greener next year, thanks to a new environmental plan that will plant trees better able to withstand the challenges posed by high-stress environments.

The project is a partnership of the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Landscape Ontario, and local nurseries and horticultural suppliers. High plant mortality and locally-available tree stock have always been a challenge for highway tree plantings. Working with industry stakeholders and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Vineland Research is optimizing the planting process for improved local production and long-term success.

“With the use of retractable roof greenhouse technology, Ontario can capture a portion of the multimillion dollar small-tree market, which traditionally we have imported,” said Dr. Hannah Mathers, senior research fellow at Vineland Research. “This will foster a stronger presence of local production and drastically reduce the carbon footprint produced by the shipping process.”

Sustaining a long-term program along Ontario highways is difficult, due to salt use during winter, and frequent dry spells in summer. Trees planted along highways improve air quality and decrease pollution levels by trapping carbon dioxide.

Dr. Mathers and her team currently have more than eight species of trees in the retractable roof greenhouses, and will have their first crop planted along the highways by the spring of 2010.

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