Area residents can expect to see plenty of trees falling in Oakville’s woodlands next week as the Town begins the removal of ash trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.
The impacted areas will include Parkway 1 on Bayshire Drive, Parkway 2 on Rockingham Drive, Joshua Creek Trail (North), and East Joshua Creek Trail 2 (North) in the Ninth Line and Dundas Street East vicinity.
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 is intended to keep people safe and allow the forest to regrow.
“Maintaining and growing Oakville’s urban forest is part of why our community is so livable,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.
“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 against the invasive beetle.
Town staff said 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 tunneling 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.
Town staff said there would be a considerable change in the appearance of the woodland following the removals.
They noted branches and wood debris left on the forest floor will eventually breakdown, nourishing the soil, and helping the forest to 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 plans to 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, Town staff said they would also remove some trees other than ash that are identified as structurally unsound or are overcrowding the forest and causing stagnation.
Town staff pointed out that 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 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8 as operations begin, to answer residents’ questions.
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 Town’s website at www.oakville.ca.