Atlantic Urban Forestry Collective: Highlighting urban forestry programs in Charlottetown, PEI

Heather Fraser

Regional Representative Atlantic Region, Représentante de la région atlantique du RCFU

By Heather Fraser, Regional Representative Atlantic Region

The City of Charlottetown, PEI, under Beth Hoar, Parkland Conservationist and ISA Certified Arborist, has had a busy few years after completing a street tree inventory in 2015 and using that inventory data as a proactive tool to manage the operational street tree program.

The i-Tree Eco program sampled woodland and natural areas tree inventory as well with random plots in woodlands, riparian zones, and hedgerows across Charlottetown recording information on every tree within the plot. The information recorded included: species composition, location, number of trees, tree height, density, canopy spread, structural condition, overall health, maintenance required, overhead utilities, ownership and comments. This information created an effective and efficient tree maintenance schedule for pruning, removals, watering, helped to develop strategic tree planting plans, assisted with developing management strategies for invasive species, presence of insect pests and diseases, assisted with creating tree protection policies. Through this program we can make inquiries about tree species: Where are the native trees? Do we have invasive tree species; what and where are they located? How many different tree species do we have in the community? Do we have too many of any particular species? Maximum percentage that should be present in the street tree population, how many trees are of similar age, what trees are susceptible to boring insect pests?

Charlottetown found answers all these questions and was able to make management decisions. One in particular was that they needed to stop planting Norway maples, as they are an invasive species. The City had not been planting Norway maples in parks or as street trees for a number of years, information they knew before the survey but the street tree study confirmed it. All of the questions above and more are important to know your tree community.

Goals of the inventory were to gain a better understanding of the urban forest as a whole allowing for knowledgeable evaluation, proactive plans, efficient operations and advocacy for urban forests. The inventory identified native trees, invasive species, variety of species, age, distribution, GPS locations, vacant sites where future trees could be planted. Collect ongoing data, track activities such as pruning and create cyclical pruning schedules, identify planting spaces, etc. Monitoring – what needs extra attention, catch issues early, be proactive, tree hazard management, greater safety, all issues needing to be addressed when dealing with trees.

Objectives: to increase forest health, increase biodiversity, encourage forest succession, reduce forest fragmentation, prune for healthy tree structure, remove invasive species, habitat conservation/creation, improve the aesthetic quality of the park and woodlands, provide educational outreach and nature information, offer the public an opportunity to participate.

Charlottetown just finished the second year of an aggressive Dutch Elm Disease Management Program as well. Less than 45% of the City’s elms (private and public) remain, some of which are very large and impressive. The beauty of the inventory is an ongoing annual monitoring program that is proactive, detects issues early, allows for planning and budgets and helps reduce the spread of DED in the community.

The key to successful Dutch Elm Disease Management for Charlottetown is sanitation, if proper sanitation is not carried out (timely removal of all DED infected trees and proper disposal) all other management activities will fail. The ideal time to do elm management is in the winter months when the elm bark beetles are hibernating. Other critical steps in the management process include: monitoring, tree planting, communication, education and community engagement. If managing to control DED and to save healthy elms – it is important that privately owned elms are managed also. Dutch Elm Disease in Charlottetown was first recorded on PEI in the late 1970’s; Charlottetown has been dealing with DED since 1996 as are many municipalities in Atlantic Canada.

Some of the statistics on the DED management plan (private and public trees) are as follows:

  • 2014/2015 elm inventory – total of 790 (private and public elms)
  • 2015 (Spring and Fall) – 344 DED infected elms removed
  • 2016 (Fall) – 96 DED infected elms to be removed
  • Healthy elms remaining – 355 (214 private, 141 public) = @45%

Other urban forest pests that are currently being monitored include:

  • Emerald ash borer (EAB) kills ash trees – Charlottetown has 314 ash in the street tree inventory knowing where they are and being able to carry out ongoing monitoring is critical to their survival
  • EAB is found in Ontario and Quebec
  • EAB could easily be moved to PEI in wood products or in firewood
  • Gypsy moth – found in greater Charlottetown and Summerside area
  • Japanese beetle – found from Cornwall to Charlottetown (spreading)
  • Elm bark beetles – vector for Dutch elm disease

Other invasive forest pests that we are conscious of, but are not yet on PEI:

  • Asian longhorned beetle – two detections in Ontario
  • Brown spruce longhorn beetle – found in Nova Scotia
  • Hemlock woolly adelgid – found in the Eastern States along the Canadian border and in Ontario
  • Pine shoot beetle – found in Maine, Quebec, Ontario and recently in New Brunswick
  • Beech leaf-mining weevil – found in Nova Scotia
  • Spotted lanternfly – Pennsylvania

Many invasive insects are spread on wood packaging material, firewood, shipping containers, nursery stock.

Between 2014-2016, ongoing monitoring has been an important part of a proactive tree management program to help detect issues early (less costly to eradicate/manage). It also allows for effective planning, a targeted monitoring program, reduces spread of DED and saves our healthy elms for as long as possible. Some of the reasons we restore Urban Woodland Projects include: public concern, environmental benefits, educational opportunities, human health and aesthetics (beautiful, relaxing and peaceful), urban wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and park pride.

In 2016 we expanded the cities woodlands, reduced the number of trails, planted many native plant species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers and ferns. The City developed a nature education program along with creating a native tree and shrub arboretum for the public to enjoy. They also carried out invasive species management working on conservation measures for Dead Man’s Pond, while pruning for structure and safety.

Native Tree and Shrub Plantings 2016

  • Large Caliper Street Trees – 125
  • Victoria Park – 163
  • Confederation Forest – 98
  • West Royalty Centre – 162

Total = 548 plantings took place between 2012-16
Charlottetown Public Properties 16,500 trees, shrubs

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