Town begins tree removals in EAB-infested woodlands

Tue, 01 Sep 2015

Dead and dying ash trees are being removed beginning September 8, 2015 to allow for regrowth

Next week, as weather and ground conditions permit, the town’s contractor will begin removing ash trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) from The Parkway-1, The Parkway-2, Joshua Creek Trail (North), and East Joshua Creek Trail-2 (North). The woodlands and trails, or portions of them, will be temporarily closed as the work is carried out.

The removal of dead and dying ash trees from all of the town’s 280 woodlands is part of a 10-plus year Woodlands Hazard Abatement Program. Removing dead trees before they fall keeps people safe and allows the forest to regrow.

“Maintaining and growing Oakville’s urban forest is part of why our community is so livable,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “Tree removal will ensure residents’ safety and expedite the regrowth of the forest.”

Through its EAB management program, the town continues to treat 75 per cent of the ash tree canopy on streets and in parks. It is not feasible to treat ash trees located in densely populated growing conditions, and 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 tunnelling under the trees’ bark.

During tree removals, residents can expect to see and hear heavy machinery and see temporary piles of logs on the side of streets as they are gathered for removal.

There will be a considerable change in the appearance of the woodland following tree removals. Branches and wood debris left on the forest floor will eventually breakdown, nourishing the soil, and helping the forest regrow. Crews will ensure walking trails and creeks are clear of wood debris.

John McNeil, manager, Forestry Services says the town has developed a long-term forest management plan to restore the woodlands and cites Iroquois Shoreline Woods as a great example of how a forest can regrow.

“The woodlands will look messy for some time, but leaving wood debris behind is a natural process and is part of good forest management practices,” he said. “In 2003, we had a similar scenario at Iroquois Shoreline Woods. 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, now we see it has come back to life.”

The town will establish intensive planting sites in select areas, and allow natural regeneration to account for most of the regrowth in the woodlands.

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.

Town staff will erect an information tent at the Parkway-1 woodland parking lot on Bayshire Drive, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, as operations begin, to answer residents’ questions. As well, signage will be on site to advise residents of trail closures.

A map of all properties in the 2015 Woodlands Hazard Abatement program and information on the town’s overall EAB management program is available on the Woodlands Hazard Abatement page.