Most if not all municipalities across the Atlantic region had a slow start with annual urban forest projects due to COVID restrictions this year. We are all adapting to the “new normal” along with a very dry summer on the East Coast (driest year on record some forecasters are quoting) which caused many new tree planting projects to be delayed until spring 2021.

In Fredericton N.B., the drought conditions experienced this summer were unprecedented, and ensuring adequate water to newly planted trees, turf, annuals and perennials quickly became a full-time and critically important role. We are seeing great results with Treegator® watering bags, and over 800 will be out in the community by the end of tree planting season in 2021. We treated 280 elms with DutchTrig® vaccine in mid-June, 80 ash with TreeAzin in July, and placed and collected 38 green sticky traps with no EAB confirmed in Fredericton yet, which is very good news! Tree removals, pruning and work orders continue as per usual. In early September, 400 trees were planted.

In Halifax N.S., research and monitoring partnerships with Dalhousie University under the Urban Forest Management Plan remained intact. The final report is not yet complete, however a notable project included an analysis of resident-driven 311 data against our seven-year cyclical pruning program. This analysis indicated a significant decrease in reactive pruning requests from neighborhoods that had received the proactive pruning treatment (as hypothesized); supporting investment into this program as proactive maintenance costs are far less than reactive costs.

Halifax also received the Tree Cities of the World designation – a very important recognition for the municipality.

Other notable events included the first privately funded installation of soil cells in Halifax at the Queens Mark on Lower Water Street (four trees). Up until now, the only installations of soil improvement technologies had been driven by public dollars, and the limited experience with the technology resulted in installation costs much higher than in central and western Canada. With increased experience installing the products and an improved competitive environment from the private sector, costs should come down and make these technologies both more affordable and appealing for future use in Halifax.

In Moncton N.B., most tree planting projects were suspended until next spring except for warranty replacement trees (100 were planted) and 20 memorial plantings took place in summer months with continued watering. All the city ash trees (580) were inspected for emerald ash borer and 350 were treated with TreeAzin from early June up until the end of August. The remaining trees (230) will need to be removed due to poor health and structural issues where the EAB treatment would not bring the trees back to a healthy state. EAB sticky traps were set out in over 20 locations throughout the city this year to continue to monitor spread of this pest.

In talking with Jim Landry from Landscape N.B., they have seen an increase in trees being planted on private property this year, a positive spin off from COVID with more people being home this spring. Moving forward, most nurseries were sold out of exotic trees species giving an opportunity to plant and grow more native species in the future.

We all continue to stay positive and look for opportunities COVID can bring us moving forward.