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Feb 07, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Radio station keeping airwaves clean, Live 88.5 FM carbon neutral forest covers more than eight hectares

Ottawa South News

It's music to the planet's ears.

A local radio station is once again planting enough trees to remain Canada's first and only carbon neutral radio station.

Live 88.5 FM, an alternative rock station based in Ottawa, will plant 5,700 trees this spring in the township of Beckwith in partnership with the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation.

For the past three years, the station has donated enough trees to absorb the carbon emissions from the office's annual energy consumption as well as travel and commuting for 35 staff members.

Morning show host Andre "Katfish" Morgan said the station has been keen to go green since it began in 2005.

"We identified years ago that this was something that was important to our audience," Morgan said. "The same people that enjoy smart, modern music and information also care about the planet."

He said the station has become increasingly environmentally conscious as staff continue to participate in the tree planting program. It's hard to find a scrap piece of paper around the office these days, he said, because everything is done online.

The station also sold its H2 Hummer and used the money to finance planting trees. The conservation authority's forestry program manager Dan Cooper said Live 88.5 has set a high standard for businesses in Ottawa, and others are beginning to follow their lead.

"Businesses are getting on board more and more," Cooper said. "Some will do it because of the carbon, some will do it because it just seems like the right thing to do."

The 5,700 trees will be a mix of about 30 species including white pine, white spruce, white cedar and red pine.

The seedlings are grown at a nursery in Kemptville and will be planted by contractors rather than volunteers.

"As much as we love the volunteer side, we're more committed to the trees surviving," Cooper said, explaining that the trees need to be planted properly and have multiple follow-ups to ensure they live. The calculation to become carbon neutral asks that the company plant the number of trees that it will take to absorb that year's carbon in 80 years, Cooper said. So far Live 88.5 has reforested about eight hectares of the Ottawa Valley.

According to a statement, the trees not only absorb greenhouse gas but also produce life-giving oxygen, clean the area's water supplies, provide wildlife habitat, buffer noise and wind, improve the soil and reduce soil erosion.

"Collectively, they make the Ottawa area less vulnerable to the worst effects of unpredictable and unseasonal heavy storms and increasing summer droughts," the statement said.

The Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation is a registered environmental charity working to help protect and conserve the lands and waters of the valley of the Rideau River in Eastern Ontario.

The Conservation Foundation builds partnerships and seeks new individuals, corporations and groups wanting to get involved in the vital work of taking care of our own natural environment. To participate in the forestry program call 613-692-3571.

emma.jackson@metroland.com

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