We now have a Steering/Planning Committee in the Atlantic region, called the Atlantic Urban Forest Collective and the members are:

  • Crispin Wood – Halifax NS Regional Municipality,
  • Andrew Williams – Truro NS,
  • Chelsea Baird – Amherst NS,
  • Keanen Jewett and Mike Glynn – Fredericton NB,
  • Heather Fraser – City of Moncton NB,
  • Chris Gaudet – Saint John NB,
  • Jessika Corkum – Gorrill – Charlottetown PEI,
  • James Steenberg – Natural Resource Canada, and
  • Jim Landry – Landscape NB and PEI.

It was a very busy summer for all municipalities as the wet (warm and humid) season made for a productive growing season, one of the best seen in years.

Tree Planting & Management

While Saint John (NB) tree planting programs have taken a substantial decrease in the numbers of trees planted due to COVID-19, the plan is to get back to planting this fall (budgets and time permitting).  Charlottetown (PE) saw 118 new trees planted, along with 554 native trees and shrubs planted throughout parks and natural areas with volunteer support at community events. Halifax (NS) is working on removals to complete the takedowns from Hurricane Dorian.  2021 will see more than 3100 caliper trees planted in the right-of-ways, which is a big increase over previous years. This coming winter there will be another cyclic tree pruning tender to continue towards our goal of a cycle every seven years.  Fredericton (NB) saw 440 Trees planted and water bags (gator) were installed on the newly planted trees, including those planted last year – around 900 trees were on a regular watering schedule. The city installed three Permavoid tree pits downtown. They have also had to relocate trees with their tree spade, due to nearby construction sites. Lastly, the city is continuing to move forward with planting their own trees (they currently have 400 oak and 200 maple seedlings started).

Disease & Pest Management

1. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

Charlottetown (PE) continues to monitor for EAB with no positive sightings to date. A new project to combat the spread of EAB into PEI included a collaborative effort from the federal and provincial governments along with the PEI Invasive Species Council. This effort involved installing firewood bins at two PEI entry points, which rely on the goodwill of tourists to dispose of their firewood brought in from other provinces, in turn, providing vouchers for any firewood that was confirmed to be EAB pest-free.

Saint John (NB) and Truro (NS) also found no evidence of EAB. Local ash trees however are affected by ash leaf rust resulting in concerned residents thinking it might be EAB affecting their trees. 

Fredericton (NB) detected EAB in February and 60 EAB traps were subsequently distributed throughout the city while 420 ash trees were treated with TreeAzin.  The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) is leading research initiatives on biological control in the Maritimes (Seigas, NB; Fredericton, NB; and Bedford, NS) with three species of parasitic wasps.  For more information please refer to “Release of parasitic wasps for biological control of the emerald ash borer in Canada, FrontLine Express – Bulletin 82 ” published by Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service. CFS is also conducting research on the efficacy of naturally occurring fungas, Beauveria bassiana, to control populations of EAB.

2. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA).

Truro Town Council continues to be extremely concerned over the potential introduction and detection of the invasive HWA and the devastation this non-native forest pest may cause within the mature eastern hemlock stands in Truro’s Victoria Park and adjacent watershed lands.  Research trials on HWA control are being conducted in national parks by CFS, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry (NSDL&F) which could at some point be used within Victoria Park to protect the hemlock stands.  CFS is also conducting research on a variety of control methods for HWA, including chemical control, biological control and silvicultural management.

3. Dutch Elm Disease (DED).

Charlottetown (PE) continues to find evidence of the disease annually with seven trees requiring removal in 2021. Charlottetown also confirmed presence of beech leaf-mining weevil presence in their community this spring.  Researchers at CFS are researching chemical control efforts for this invasive.

In Truro (NS) signs of infected elms are now readily evident, and a handful of diseased elm will be removed again this winter under the town’s long standing DED management program. As part of a street narrowing project on Young St., the reintroduction of streetside elm tree plantings occurred. Twenty DED resistant ‘Accolade’ elm (Ulmus davidiana var. japonica ‘Morton’) were sourced from a local supplier.

Fredericton (NB) treated 195 trees under their DED management program.

Governance

Budgets

Halifax Regional Council approved the streetscaping budget for Spring Garden Road, the busiest pedestrian mall in Canada, east of St. Catherine’s Street in Montreal. This streetscaping was designed with a green focus and will significantly increase the tree canopy with an additional 30 new trees in soil cells across four city blocks. Construction is currently underway. 

Staffing increases are leading to more projects being accomplished.  Halifax is fulfilling a one-year term Contract Supervisor to oversee tree planting and stump grinding. Additionally, full time staff have seen major improvements in overall urban street tree work, storm, and wind damage, along with regular tree maintenance.

Education & Engagement

Halifax (NS) participated in a national student-training initiative, NSERC CREATE, on the topic of urban forests, through a one-week Urban Forestry Summer School held in August.

Strong educational efforts with residents are needed in Truro (NS) to highlight the importance of identifying and communicating the presence of the infamous giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), and the far more commonly encountered cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum) and wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), both of which have the same potential to cause blisters, burns and blindness as giant hogweed.  Over the past summer, there was an increased number of calls from residents with concerns over these potentially toxic plants, including the native cow parsnip and the invasive wild parsnip.

Charlottetown (PE) embarked on a strong educational effort and public awareness campaign on the value of trees to society with their new Tree Protection Bylaw. Charlottetown is also engaging residents with a new self-guided arboretum walk in Victoria Park. In September, the second Annual Rooted in Art took place, a project where local artists create tree-inspired art.

Professional Education Opportunities

Many readers will recall that the 14th Canadian Urban Forest Conference was slated to take place in Charlottetown in October 2020, but got postponed due to the pandemic. It is now planned to take place October 3rd -5th in 2022, still in Charlottetown. The theme remains unchanged: “Urban Forests and the Challenge of Climate Change: Building Resilience”.

The call for participation will be issued on October 25, 2021. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend!

Planning is well under way for the Northern Hardwood Silviculture Conference, taking place from August 16-18th, 2022 in Fredericton N.B. 

The HortEast Conference, a virtual education series will take place on November 15th and 16th.

Research

Collaborations

The Halifax Tree Project showcases short articles on a range of urban forest themes as well as all the reports and papers resulting from twelve years of collaboration between Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) and Dalhousie University.  Featured projects for summer 2021 include completion of a plantable-spots survey where they have quantified and mapped the plantable spots along all the streets of the Halifax peninsula and Dartmouth’s downtown core; continued five year remeasurement of growth and survival of all the street trees planted under the urban forest master plan (UFMP) (they currently have four years of data on several thousand trees); and a search for hemlock trees in HRM’s large wooded parks to support a risk assessment associated with the arrival of hemlock woolly adelgid.

Dalhousie’s urban-forest research team for 2021: from left to right, Zoe Coulter, Tyler Doucet, Jordan Haughn, and Hannah Machat. Photo by Peter Duinker.

Funding

Halifax (NS) was awarded a Mitacs Grant which allowed the hiring of two additional interns within the Dalhousie University Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP) research and Monitoring Program. Under the supervision of Dr. Peter Duinker, these interns have doubled the capacity of the program for 2021. Research highlights include a characterization of the eastern hemlock across Halifax Parkland.

Mitacs is a national funding agency that provides matching funds to support graduate-student research. For the first time, last year, Mitacs accepted proposals involving municipalities as partners. This is a wonderful funding program that could be accessed by municipal foresters or arborists who are keen to get involved in research and can identify a professor to work with.

National Tree Seed Center (NTSC)

The NTSC at CFS Fredericton (NB) is a critical component of forest conservation. With the potential impact of invasive species, climate change, fire, cumulative effects, or other forestry issues, our native species are in threat of a major decline. With these numerous threats, foresters, biologists and technicians are busy working to conserve genetic forest resources. While most of the attention is on Integrated Pest Management (IPM), wildland fire mitigation and prevention and other management tools, the NTSC is currently developing a “back-up plan”. As an example, ash seed is being collected and stored for genetic conservation, genomic work and forest restoration or rehabilitation. Although CFS researchers are optimistic about current work being conducted in the Maritimes and the efficacy of various management tools, the NTSC is the last line of defense for saving the native genetic diversity.

I would like to thank all those who collaborated in providing updates for this report Jessika Corkum-Gorrill, Peter Duinker, Chris Gaudet, Corey Hughes, Keanen Jewett, Jim Landry and Kevin Osmond, Andrew Williams, and Crispin Wood.