What’s Happening With Tree Loss in Burlington?

Published December 14, 2018 at 10:05 pm

Now that it’s officially winter it’s going to be a little while before we see greenery and wildlife outside again.

Now that it’s officially winter it’s going to be a little while before we see greenery and wildlife outside again.

If you’re a Burlington resident and have been noticing a recent plummet of the city’s trees you may be sad to find out that this isn’t just because of the colder season.

Tree loss has actually been an issue in the city for quite some time now. The main reasons for this have been invasive pests, the effects of climate change, and the increasing number of storms.

The pest that is negatively impacting the city’s trees is known as emerald ash borer, a destructive beetle that is originally from Asia and was first detected in North America in 2002.

According to Barbara Rabicki, the Manager of Urban Forestry for the City of Burlington, these pests have recently been the main reason for the city losing a lot of its ash trees quite quickly. The city is, however, working to make up for trees that have been lost.

“We plant replacement trees on a one-to-one basis for trees that are lost because of emerald ash borer,” Rabicki said. 

According to Rabicki, new trees are planted across the city. Although, Rabicki notes that the city is unable to replant the exact number of trees that are lost all within the same year. So, the tree planting process is important but it can sometimes take longer depending on how many trees are lost. But when they are not replanting, the city is also working to remove dying ash trees since they pose a risk to the public. 

Though these pests are not the only thing that is harming Burlington’s trees. 

“We’re seeing a double whammy impact of invasive pests, and climate change and storm impact,” Rabicki said.

Rabicki said that the city lostover 130 mature trees during the May 4 storm of last year.

So, what is Burlington doing as a city?

“As well as planting for emerald ash borer we’re also planting, one-to-one wherever we can, trees to replace trees we lose either due to storms or aging trees,” Rabicki said.

“Over mature trees fail and die, we replace those as well.”

Rabicki said that Burlington is currently in a peak of tree loss, but that this is normal when a city is dealing with losses due to issues such as emerald ash borer. 

“Tree loss is certainly an issue, however, we are also planting lots of trees,” Rabicki said.

“It’s a concern but we are working hard to mitigate that concern.”

The city, along with its partners, in 2018 has replanted about 4,000 trees. 

Some partners that have aided the city in tree replanting have included BurlingtonGreen, Burlington Hydro, the Burlington Rotary Club, Union Gas, Laurel Street, the Halton District School Board, IKEA staff, TD volunteers, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, the TD Urban Greening project, and Conservation Halton.

We’re currently in the height of the colder season, or so it seems, and spring is still a long way away but the City of Burlington is already preparing for it in terms of tree planting.

Burlington residents are encouraged to help out with tree planting by coming to the annual community tree planting that will be held in May of 2019 in partnership with BurlingtonGreen. 

The community tree planting event is the first date that the city has committed to for tree planting next year.

Residents are also encouraged to continue to plant trees on their own property. 

City tree planting will be ongoing through 2024. 

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