Town rolls out removal and renewal plans for EAB-infested woodlands

Residents invited to learn more at community open house on June 17, 2015

Starting this summer, as weather and ground conditions permit, the town’s contractor will begin removing ash trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) from the town’s woodlands. Removing dead and dying trees near trails and bordering properties keeps people safe and allows new trees and shrubs to grow, renewing the forest more rapidly. The project is year one of a ten-plus year renewal program for all 280 of the town’s woodland parks.

“Council is committed to maintaining the long-term health of Oakville’s urban forest and to growing our tree canopy to meet our canopy coverage goals,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “The town is using best forestry management practices to create a more livable and sustainable future for all residents.”

Most, if not all of the town’s 43,000 woodland ash trees are now dead or dying due to the lack of nutrients caused by the EAB larva tunneling under the trees’ bark. Work begins this year in 22 woodlands in the area of town where the insect was first detected and levels of infestation are now extreme. Woodlands that have more than 50 per cent ash will be managed first.

While the town will establish intensive planting sites in select areas, natural regeneration will account for most of the regrowth in the woodlands. Following tree removals, the logs, branches and wood debris left on the forest floor will eventually break down, nourishing the soil, and aid in the natural regrowth of shrubs and trees.

John McNeil, manager, Forestry Services cites Iroquois Shoreline Woods as a great example of how a forest can regrow.

“In 2003, we had a similar scenario at Iroquois Shoreline Woods. Nearly 4,000 oak trees were dead and dying due to a combination of oak decline and an invasive pest called the two-lined chestnut borer. The town developed a long-term forest management plan to restore the forest through plantings and natural regeneration. Today, anyone would be surprised to learn that only a decade ago, the forest lost 80 per cent of its oak trees. Where once you would have seen cut trees and branches on the forest floor, we now see it has come back to life,” McNeil said.

In keeping with best forest management practices, the town will also remove some trees other than ash that are identified as structurally unsound or are over-crowding the forest and causing stagnation. By following this sustainable forest management approach, the Town of Oakville is the first lower-tier municipality in Canada to have all 280 of its woodlands achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification through the forest certification program of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF). The FSC® is an international, membership-based, non-profit organization that supports environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.

A map of the properties in this year’s woodlands program is available on the Woodlands Hazard Abatement page. Portions of select woodlands will be temporarily closed over periods throughout the year while trees are removed.

Oakville remains a municipal leader in Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) management and is treating 75 per cent of the ash canopy on streets and in active parks with the bio insecticide TreeAzin. While the treatment works well in open spaces, woodland trees grow too close together for the treatment to work effectively. EAB has infested large portions of the United States, Ontario and Quebec, and is responsible for killing tens of millions of ash trees since its discovery in North America in 2002.

Residents are invited to a community open house at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex on June 17, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. to learn more about how EAB is affecting the woodlands and plans for their future restoration.

To get the latest information about the town’s EAB management program, visit the EAB page.

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Town rolls out removal and renewal plans for EAB-infested woodlands