Save Glebe ash trees – act now

BY ANGELA KELLER-HERZOG

SCOURGE OF THE EMERALD ASH BORER

HOW TO IDENTIFY AN ASH TREE. SOURCE OF PICTURES: WWW.BIOFOREST.CA/UPLOADEDFILES/FILES/EMERALD_ASH_BORER_MANGEMENT_2012.PDF

The emerald ash borer arrived in Ottawa in 2008 and has now spread to every part of the city, including the Glebe. The tiny invasive bug, originally from China, is devastating Ottawa’s tree canopy, which, according to city foresters, is fully one quarter ash. Without treatment to control the ash borer, virtually every ash tree in the city will die, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of trees in the next few years. The city’s foresters are advising that this summer is pretty well the last opportunity to save ash trees – and indeed, the Glebe has already begun to lose ash trees and many more show signs of damage.

Fortunately, a product called TreeAzin, whose main component is derived from Neem tree seeds, a natural pesticide, can be injected into ash trees. It is effective in killing the larvae of the emerald ash borer, which burrow just under the bark. An increasing number of the city’s tree companies are offering this treatment (see www.bioforest.ca). The treatment costs about $250 per tree (less if neighbours band together for multiple trees) and needs to be repeated every two years until natural bio-controls are established, probably in a decade or so. But it costs about $1,200 to safely remove a sick or dead ash tree. Aside from the ecological benefits that trees provide, healthy mature trees add about 10 to 15 per cent to property values, and provide a peaceful welcoming ambiance to the Glebe.

FINAL CRITICAL WINDOW:SPRING AND SUMMER 2013

The TreeAzin treatment can only be effectively undertaken from mid-June to the end of August and should be done on cool days in the morning. Have your ash trees assessed now and schedule!

CITY-OWNED ASH TREES

The City of Ottawa has plans to save about three per cent of street and park ash trees. If you have a city-owned ash near your home, you can ask the City to consider it for the 2013 treatment program. Dial “311” and tell the operator that you want to talk to a Forestry Department inspector for the Glebe, regarding the ash tree near your home. You can also have the city-owned trees treated by an authorized service provider at your own expense. For details on how to do this, see http://goo.gl/MbqOB.

ASH TREES IN SCHOOL YARDS

Our neighbourhood schools have also begun to take action. The row of trees along First Avenue, which shades the First Avenue Public School yard, is ash, and a majority of trees on the Mutchmor playground and field is ash. Both Jennifer Nutt and Heather Mace, the principals of the two schools, have begun to take action to have their ash trees assessed as to whether they can still be saved. The current chair of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Jennifer McKenzie, is highly aware of the urgency of the issue and ready to spearhead support (see correction below). The school board has put in place a standing offer with an arborist company. Facilities and grounds staff have responsibility for about 7,000 trees at 150 schools, and say that it is a losing battle. However, for the interventions for the upcoming critical treatment window this summer, they are giving some priority to central areas because of the already limited green space that our children enjoy.

INFORMATION SESSION

A public information session on the emerald ash borer, organized by the Federation of Citizens Associations and Ottawa Forests, will be held at the Ottawa Citizen building, 1101 Baxter Road, on Monday, May 13, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Attendees will hear from arborists, scientists, health professionals, and informed citizens about the situation. This is an opportunity to ask questions and meet with companies providing TreeAzin injections.

Angela Keller-Herzog is a Glebe-area volunteer with Ecology Ottawa, a consultant in sustainable development, and operator of an eco-friendly bed & breakfast in the Glebe. She can be reached at 613-769-3794.

May 15, 2013 Correction: In the article “Save Glebe Ash Trees – Act Now” by Angela Keller-Herzog, Jennifer McKenzie, who is the current chair of the Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), was mistakenly described in the section entitled “Ash Trees in School Yards “ as the former chair of the OCDSB. The Glebe Report regrets the error, made during the editing process, and any inconvenience it may have caused.

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