Two Billion cover

Two Billion Trees and Counting: The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz, Dundurn Press, 2011.


Short-listed for the 2012 Speaker’s Book Award

Edmund Zavitz (1875–1968) rescued Ontario from the ravages of increasingly more powerful floods, erosion, and deadly fires. Wastelands were talking over many hectares of once-flourishing farmlands and towns. Sites like the Oak Ridges Moraine were well on their way to becoming a dust bowl and all because of extensive deforestation.

Zavitz held the positions of chief forester of Ontario, deputy minister of forests, and director of reforestation. His first pilot reforestation project was in 1905, and since then Zavitz has educated the public and politicians about the need to protect Ontario forests. By the mid-1940s, conservation authorities, provincial nurseries, forestry stations, and bylaws protecting trees were in place. Land was being restored.

Just a month before his death, the one billionth tree was planted by Premier John Robarts. Some two billion more would follow. As a result of Zavitz’s work, the Niagara Escarpment, once a wasteland, is now a UNESCO World Biosphere. Recognition of the ongoing need to plant trees to protect our future continues as the legacy of Edmund Zavitz.



The Toronto Star

[Mark Cullen]…a well-researched accounting of Zavitz’s work in a chronology that is easy to follow. I strongly suggest that his story should be written into the grade school history books in this province.

Globe and Mail

John Bacher, an environmentalist and historian living in St. Catharines, Ont., has rescued Edmund Zavitz from undeserved obscurity.

Canada’s History

Bacher provides a detailed look at a man whose lifelong efforts helped change the landscape of modern Ontario. Two Billion Trees and Counting is a reverential story of someone who was a family man, sportsman, photographer, and, above all, a naturalist.

In Two Billion Trees and Counting – The Legacy of Edmund Zavitz, John Bacher has given us a meticulously researched and very readable account of a courageous civil servant whose vision and strength of purpose would allow him and his supporters to turn the tide, tripling the forest cover in southern Ontario and starting the conservation authorities and county forest systems we know today.



Petrotyranny, Dundurn Press, 2000.


High gas prices aren’t the end of the world- but they may be the beginning of the end. This, at least, is the feeling of many who shudder at the staggering power oil-rich countries have over the world’s political affairs.

In Petrotyranny, John Bacher uncovers the frightening facts of the world’s oil industry. He reveals that the worst dictatorships control six times the reserves that are under democratic control, and explores the potential for global conflict that exists as the demand for energy increases and the oil supply decreases. What kind of power will these dictatorships possess in the future? How many wars will be fought over the ever-shrinking supply of oil?

Bacher takes an optimistic approach, viewing the problem as a challenge: the world’s democracies need to devise a creative response to avoid the looming crisis. That is, start replacing fossil-fuel burning with renewable energy – and start the process now.


john_bacher dundurn

John Bacher received his Ph.D. in History from McMaster University in 1985, and has taught at McMaster and the University of Toronto. A co-author of Get a Life: An Environmentalist’s Guide to Better Living, Bacher is a passionate supporter of environmental preservation.

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