OTTAWA -- Ecology Ottawa is seeing record demand for tree seedlings at its annual giveaways this year.

They are on track to giveaway a record 15,000 trees, which Ecology Ottawa says is the largest free tree giveaway in Ottawa’s history.  

The program started in 2014 and partners with community organizations, including the Rotary Club of Ottawa-Stittsville, to raise awareness and distribute saplings grown by the Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville

With record heat waves across the country, the goal of the project is to help cool urban neighbourhoods by building the Tree Canopy to provide shade on private property.

The city of Ottawa has set a 40 per cent Urban Tree Canopy target in its new draft plan.

Marian Mossman, the President of the Rotary Club of Ottawa-Stittsville, says events like this draw attention to the work the club does in the community building urban green spaces.

"A focus of Rotary is the environment and green spaces," Mossman said. "It’s important because we would like to let the community know about our club and all the wonderful things we do."

Jenifer Jodoin and her family came out early to pick up their saplings. The Stittsville residents want to encourage their neighbours to plant more trees and green the community.

"We want to try and keep our yard full of trees and improve the environment around us," Jodoin said. "We are going to spread the word that this is what we did and you know it might be a good idea for everybody else."

After handing out record numbers of saplings in 2021, Ecology Ottawa sees nothing but growth for 2022, when they will bring thousands of new trees to a community near you.