Halton Parks EAB

Halton Parks Management of Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive non-native insect found across North America, which is a threat to ash trees. EAB first appeared in Canada in southwestern Ontario in the early 2000’s, was confirmed present in Oakville in 2008 and has now spread throughout much of Ontario and Quebec.

EAB has been detected in ash trees on lands managed by Conservation Halton including our seven conservation areas and we are now taking steps to address it. Conservation Halton has more than 1,000,000 ash trees on its property out of approximately 11,000,000 trees in total; EAB will result in the death of more than 98% of these trees. Our primary concern is ensuring trees which could fall on trails, buildings, or parking lots – places where people use our property – are managed to minimize any risk. We will aim at the same time to try to prevent disruption to our park activities. While we estimate that this is a far smaller number than our total number of ash trees, it is still in the area of 50,000 to 100,000 trees.

Because of this risk, Conservation Halton is proactively addressing EAB on its lands. Once a tree is infected with EAB it usually dies within 24 to 36 months and can, in intense infestations, die in less than a year. Trees are phenomenal feats of nature’s engineering and so a dead tree can stay standing for many years after it has died and, provide a very valuable habitat for a large number of species as standing deadwood in the forest. After they fall, the wood lying on the forest floor provides an equally valuable habitat for another wide range of species that help recycle the trees nutrients back into the soil.

Trees that are dead are more susceptible to fall; either dropping branches or falling entirely, and while this process may take years to happen after a tree has died, it could happen sooner in stormy conditions or if the tree has rotted more quickly. It is much safer and easier to remove trees when they are still alive, or are only very recently dead. The longer you wait after a tree dies, it is more difficult, expensive, and less safe to remove it, and the more likely it is to fail.

Conservation Halton is addressing this challenge in two ways:

  • Preservation: We are trying to preserve as many ash trees as we can. We are treating around 200 trees with TreeAzin, a systemic insecticide, to protect them from EAB and its impacts. We need to protect trees before they are infested and will keep applying this insecticide every second year, as part of an ongoing program. Each tree we protect costs between $100 and $300 (depending on size) each time we treat. The trees we are protecting are those which are our largest and healthiest ash. We hope these trees will provide natural sources for seed to help ash return to our woodlots after EAB has passed through. Any trees we treat will have a blue painted dot on them. TreeAzin is produced from Neem tree (Azadiracta indica) seed extracts, which have been used for centuries to control insects.
  • Removal: Because EAB will eventually kill ash, wherever there is a concern that a tree, when it dies, may pose a risk to a building, trail or visitor, we are scheduling its removal. Based on the scale of the work involved and the number of trees to be removed, this work will take more than 10 years to complete at current rates. This work began in 2015. Our forestry staff is targeting those trees which are dead or showing signs of EAB infestation first. As we are only targeting trees that pose a risk to people, you, as a visitor, will see the effects. In some places there are a large number of ash to be removed, so some of our conservation areas will look very different when you visit; the tree canopy will be more open, the forest will have more light, and in places, there will be a lot of cut logs on the ground. Sometimes we will be closing sections of trail, or whole trails and sometimes trails will be closed for a longer period – for example we will be closing Kelso trails each winter for several months.

We will post signs on the properties on which our forestry staff are working, and service disruptions, where needed, on our website. We will try to limit the disruption this causes you our visitors. You can help us to work safely by avoiding trails which are posted closed and if you see or hear our staff working, take care, follow their guidance and stay away from all work areas.

Help Protect Our Forests

The movement of firewood poses a substantial risk to Canada’s economy and environment. Transporting firewood may seem harmless but can lead to the spread of pests such as insects, plants and diseases. A mass infestation of an invasive species can limit your ability to enjoy the environment around you and negatively affect the property value of your home.

Refrain from moving any firewood to prevent the spread of pests. Moving untreated firewood, even if it is just a few kilometers to or from a campground or cottage, can spread invasive species and diseases.

Buy Local. Burn Local.