Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Paul Cottenden is a shining example of how one person can make an immense contribution to this planet.

Paul estimates he has planted one million trees over the course of his lifetime.

Paul has been a Forest Technician with Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority for the past 19 years, and has been working in the forestry sector for almost four decades.

His favourite tree is a Bur Oak, and that’s the tree that was planted at the Scanlon Arboretum on Sept. 26, 2019, in celebration of Paul’s achievement.

Paul’s love of trees began in childhood, with his first recollection of planting a tree at the age of 8, where he participated in a tree planting as a cub scout. Paul still remembers that it was a Red Oak and muses that it’s probably well over 40 feet tall by now.

Paul’s career in tree planting began with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) in Parry Sound. He worked for the MNRF for a few years, deciding to formalize his career by going to school to get his Forest Technologist diploma.

According to Paul, “it’s very satisfying work to go back to a place you’ve planted and see a forest growing.”

These days, Paul’s spends a lot of time working with landowners on large-scale plantings. “There are many great reasons for people with acreage to forest them” Paul says. “Besides getting advice from experts like me, there are financial incentives to planting trees - like decreased property taxes” he adds.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 66% (71 million hectares) of the province of Ontario is forested. In the Lake Simcoe watershed, the statistic is not quite as high. Currently, 35% of the watershed is under canopy cover, and Paul is part of a team working hard to bring that number up.

Paul believes the best way to improve tree planting is to provide planting incentives, like the 50 Million Tree Program, now being funded by the Federal government for the next four years.

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Love for the earth started in his youth Paul says his love for trees and tree planting began in childhood, as a cub scout and later a boy scout. “They did tree planting projects every year, and I just really enjoyed it. I loved the outdoors and trees.” Paul says.

Later on, when deciding what he wanted to do with his life, Paul recalls his father saying “Just make sure you do something you can look back at and say that you made a difference for the world”. “That’s just the way he raised me”, Paul says. “When I look back and think that I planted so many trees… I think I’ve made a positive impact on this planet.”

Planting has never been easier. The team at LSRCA has more than 90 years of experience planting trees! We know soils, what grows best and we love to share planting tips!

Visit to learn more.

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