Monday, June 18, 2012

emerald ash borers in cities

By now I'm sure you've heard about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle.  It seems that this beetle just can't get enough of our ash trees!  The changes to our cities, because of the destructive action of this beetle on ash trees, could be large.  Ottawa itself is predicting the loss of almost one-quarter of Ottawa’s tree cover unless something is done. This truly would alter many streetscapes and bring down neighborhood real estate values, as our stately tree cover and lovely tree-lined avenues are lost.

Across the province, different cities are taking various approaches.

The City of Oakville is taking a multi-layered approach that includes treating 7000 trees on public property and encouraging residents to save ash trees on private property.  "One in 10 of the town’s trees are ash — roughly 180,000 and 80 per cent of salvageable trees are growing on private property."   Learn more about their “Canopy Club” and check out the videos the town created that show the use of TreeAzin, which can help prolong an infected trees life at this BioForestTech link

Here is a great article by LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests) on the TreeAzin Insecticide.

The City of Toronto, York Region and the Town of Markham are providing funding support to the non-profit LEAF to train EAB Ambassadors. These ambassadors will help spread the word in their neighborhoods about treatment options for ash trees not yet infested, replanting programs and more. There are approximately 860,000 ash trees in the City of Toronto and an estimated 2,800,000 mature ash trees growing in York Region.

In Ottawa, the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre and the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital are working tirelessly to get the word out about this issue and the options that are available to the City and to local residents. Part of their message includes a great reminder of the "Immeasurable Value of Trees".   Here is an excerpt from one of their emails:

Trees, particularly those in an urban setting, are a critical asset vital to the whole community. Whether beautifying our streets, shading our parks or enhancing our property, trees improve air quality and health, save us energy costs, add to the enjoyment of our home and increase the resale value of our property as well as the desirability of our neighbourhood. Trees add to the beauty, liveability and image of a city. 

There has been a lack of community consultation regarding the City's strategy and large number of trees are being cut without any consideration of alternatives.  Is the City moving ahead too quickly and are there questions that should be asked?  Ottawa is primed to cut 75,000 trees down, which could cost up to $100M over the next number of years - are there alternatives that would be less costly and less drastic?

If you are concerned with what this means to the City of Ottawa - write a letter to your local councillor and the mayor.  To provide you with more information, here are maps that show the percentage ash tree coverage in each ward and how the loss of ash trees will affect your neighborhood:

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