Students at Smithville Christian High School fought back against the loss of tree cover by helping to plant more than 1,500 trees in the community.
The students spent the morning of April 17 planting the trees at Anastasio Park Forest, near Golden Acres Drive in Smithville, helping staff from Land Care Niagara and Sassafras Farms.
The initiative was spearheaded by Smithville Christian High School science teacher Scott Antonides and some of his students.
Antonides said the idea came from “noticing over the past few years the loss of a few significant woodlands with the expansion of Smithville and other towns.”
He said that across the region, forest cover decreased from 80 per cent to just 15 per cent. He estimated that we need 30 per cent tree cover is the “minimum for life on Earth.”
“The appropriate response was to push back,” he said. “You’ve got to protect your space.”
And so last June, students Grace Munnings, Ephraim Nywening, Reuben DeBoer, and Nadia Batourin, along with their teacher Antonides, gave a presentation to West Lincoln council about the importance of preserving the existing forests in West Lincoln and to plant more trees.
Council then endorsed a stewardship agreement with Land Care Niagara to obtain funding from Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Trees Program and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s Restoration Grant Program. The $2,000 application fee was paid from an account as approved by the director of finance.
And now, the students’ hard work has paid off, and Smithville will soon have a new, 1.9-acre urban forest.
Antonides stressed that the forest is not just ornamental but will be a “functioning ecosystem.”
The eight different species of trees were carefully chosen to develop an ecosystem and create a long-lasting forest that the teacher said Smithville residents can be proud of.
“I hope that when you come back in 20 or 30 years, you’ll see a full-grown forest,” Antonides told his students.
Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News