The Premier of Ontario has declared a province-wide state of emergency and issued a stay-at-home order in response to rising COVID-19 variant infection rates.
The Woodlands Hazard Abatement Program is part of the town’s EAB management program to mitigate the impact of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. The EAB management program has five components in all: Canopy Conservation/Ash Tree Treatment Program, Community Engagement Program, Hazard Abatement /Ash Tree Removal Program, Ash Tree Replacement Program, and Quality Control/EAB Monitoring Program. Starting this winter, as weather and ground conditions permit, the town will implement the 2016 Woodlands Hazard Abatement Program to remove hazardous dead and dying ash trees from the town’s trails and woodlands for public safety and to help the forest regrow. This is year two of a ten-plus year program.
Since 2008, the town has been successfully treating 75 per cent of the treatable ash tree canopy on streets and in active parks with the bio-insecticide TreeAzin. It is not financially or operationally feasible to treat all 43,000 ash trees in the town’s woodlands. As well, evidence shows that treatment is not effective in dense, low-light conditions, such as heavily treed woodlands.
Most, if not all of the 43,000 ash trees in the town’s woodlands are now dead or dying. They are becoming brittle and structurally unsound due to the lack of nutrients caused by the EAB larva tunneling under the bark. Brittle trees can lose limbs or fall, causing serious injury to people using the trails, or serious damage to private property that borders the trails. Removing dead trees also allows new trees and shrubs to grow, renewing the forest more quickly.
We are removing ash trees near public trails or private property. Trees in the woods that are away from public areas and are not in danger of falling on trails or property are being left. Some other trees that are identified as structurally unsound or are over-crowding the forest and compromising proper forest health will be selected for removal at the same time. This is in keeping with accepted sustainable forest management practices.
The town follows the Ministry of Natural Resources’ tree marking guidelines.
This year’s ash tree removals will begin to take place when weather and ground conditions permit, likely in the winter of 2016. The ground must be hard enough to allow heavy equipment to enter the trails with minimal damage.
In some cases there will be minimal impact to the area and to residents. In other instances, where there is a significant proportion of ash, there may be considerable change in the appearance of the woodland until replanting and natural regeneration take effect. While the woodland floor may look messy, cut trees and branches left on the forest floor is important for natural regeneration and wildlife habitat. During operations, residents can expect to see and hear heavy machinery and temporary piles of logs on side streets as they are gathered for removal.
Portions of select woodlands and trails will be temporarily closed while trees are removed. Areas will be reopened once they are safe for public access.
Some large trunks and logs may be removed in areas where it is feasible and will pose minimal impact to the woodlands. Other pieces of wood and branches are left behind on the forest floor to help the forest regenerate. Piles of wood and branches are kept within a maximum height of 1.2 metres, in keeping with acceptable forest management practices. Crews will ensure walking trails and creeks are clear and that there is a five-metre clearance behind property/fence lines.
While natural regeneration will account for most of the regrowth in the woodlands, the town will continue to establish a number of concentrated planting sites to help the forest regrow more rapidly with desirable native species.
More information can be found on the Woodlands Hazard Abatement page or by contacting ServiceOakville at 905-845-6601.