2020 was a challenging year for all. With the safety of staff as a main priority, along with budget challenges due to the impacts of the pandemic, meant that many of the annual urban forestry programs had to be placed on hold, including the community tree planting events across the Atlantic Region.
A formal steering/planning committee for the region is being set up and will be announced once complete.
All planned conferences and workshops went virtual in 2020 and will continue into 2021.
The Atlantic Canada’s Forest Health Workshop took place virtually on January 19 and 20 and the workshop and presentations were recorded.
Most tree planting projects are suspended until spring 2021. The planting tender will see approximately 308 new trees to plant, with approximately 194 being new development plantings. In 2020, all Moncton’s ash trees (580) were inspected for emerald ash borer (EAB) and 350 were treated with TreeAzin from early June until the end of August. In 2021, a second round of treatments will take place on half the population to break up the quantities enabling the City to treat half the population every two years and reducing the treatment period over time. The City has begun to remove the remaining trees (approximately 230) due to poor health and structural issues where the EAB treatment would not help bring the trees back to a healthy state. They also removed 11 additional large ash trees that posed a risk to public safety. The remaining smaller trees will be removed and replaced during the five-year rotational maintenance cycle or when trees show signs of infection or die back. Monitoring of EAB will continue annually with the use of random branch sampling during cyclic pruning maintenance times and the use of EAB sticky traps. EAB traps have been set out in over 20 locations throughout Moncton to continue to monitor the spread of this pest. In 2021, staff will be going through tree maintenance zones conducting priority removals as per the urban forest management plan, then high priority prunes in each zone will be done before proceeding to the routine pruning plan.
Saint John, NB
They are working hard on a tree budget for 2021 with most trees planted from donations and grants. Plantings were suspended in 2020 due to COVID.
Riverview is partnering with the Fundy Biosphere Reserve to plant trees in their newly formed Mill Creek Nature Park in 2021. Subdivision development tree planting continues, along with a new partnership with the Fruit Tree Guild to plant fruit trees along the Riverfront Trail. A new street tree planting program similar to Dieppe and Moncton’s is being developed to allow a limited number of trees to be planted per year by established area homeowners. All urban trees are lit during the Christmas season along the Riverfront Trail providing residents with a beautiful night-time stroll.
Despite the pandemic, 390 trees were planted in the fall and three trees were planted in the downtown core using permavoid. The Dutch Elm Disease Management Plan continued treating 231 elms with DutchTrig.
City staff treated 77 ash trees with TreeAzin and 38 EAB traps were distributed and monitored throughout the city and surrounding areas.
Watering bags (gator bags) were installed on all new trees in fall 2020 due to a very dry summer in the Atlantic. They will also be installed on all trees planted in spring 2021 and reinstalled on those trees planted in fall 2020. Committed staff will be assigned to water these throughout the coming summer.
Transplanting took place on several elm and bur oaks utilizing a recently purchased tree spade.
A new initiative is being started to grow our own trees using locally collected native seed stock. Sugar maple, red maple and bur oak are currently stratifying and will be ready for germination in spring 2021.
Each year for the past eleven years, Peter Duinker has had a research agreement with the Halifax Regional Municipality’s (HRM) Urban Forestry group to deliver research and monitoring services associated with development (2010-2012) and implementation (2013-present) of the HRM Urban Forest Master Plan. That body of work has involved a few dozen students over the years at all levels. Negotiations are underway to hire three research assistants during the summer of 2021 to undertake a suite of urban forest research projects in HRM.
Currently the position for an urban forest NGO in Halifax is being scouted to collaborate with HRM in supporting its urban forest developments. Any interested party should contact HRM and express interest.
A small group of like-minded citizens who care about trees have launched the Halifax Tree Project.
An application through the MITACS program (a federally funded student grant program aimed at job experience creation), in collaboration with Dalhousie University, was approved and will see the staffing of a graduate student intern in the spring of 2021. Under the supervision of Dr. Peter Duinker, the student will conduct data collection and analysis of recent tree planting programs, as well as collect data on the location and health of eastern hemlock across various parks in HRM in support of ongoing monitoring of hemlock woolly adelgid.
On November 10, Dr. Jon Sweeney, a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service and Ron Neville, a plant health survey biologist with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, held a virtual session with Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq (CMM) and some First Nations community members regarding EAB. A socially-distanced field trip to DeWolf Park in Bedford to have a look at infected ash trees also took place.
HRM continues to work on its landscaping and engineering design standards and supplementary specification with urban forestry best management practices in mind. Supplementary specifications for capital construction projects have been updated for 2021 with a new topsoil specification, boulevard trench detail and updated tree planting detail. Municipal design standards, including the “Tree Chapter” are currently under final review with anticipated publishing in 2021.
Many amendments were made to Charlottetown’s regular urban forestry operations in 2020 due to COVID although the year was still a great success. Instead of planting street and park trees in the spring, this work happened in the fall with 116 new trees planted. In addition, around 500 native trees and shrubs were planted by volunteers to expand the city’s natural areas.
2020 was the first full year that the city implemented its Tree Protection Bylaw. Word is getting out to homeowners, contractors and tree removal companies about new protocols for working on or near city-owned and heritage trees. Communication and education will continue to be a major focus, as situations are still arising where the bylaw is not known or is being ignored.
Monitoring and management for invasive pests and diseases is ongoing. To date, emerald ash borer has not been found in PEI, which is very good news. Management for Dutch elm disease continues with five privately-owned, diseased elms removed in 2020. Eight city-owned elm trees were treated with Arbortect 20-S.
Charlottetown was supposed to host the Canadian Urban Forest Conference in fall 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the conference has been postponed until fall 2022. PEI is ready to welcome visitors from across the country to allow for future urban forestry collaborations.
Charlottetown saw its first tree cell added in the downtown area where it is challenging to find open spaces for new trees. This pilot project saw the introduction of a new product called Permavoid, which was made possible thanks to donations from Bird Stairs, ABT and Pinnacle Agencies. You will now see an Acer freemanii at the intersection of Queen Street and Richmond Street, where it will hopefully live and thrive for many years to come.
As we engage with educators and political leaders, we see a social and cultural shift of focus toward green infrastructure in all areas. This includes, among other things, residential and commercial landscapes, food security, urban forests and the forest resource in general. There is still much work to do, but it seems that doors are opening. The education system is finally moving to the creation of more outdoor classrooms, partially to deal with COVID concerns, but also to introduce students at all grade levels to nature. Discussions around labour shortages are becoming a concern. There are plans to take part in the Liberal government’s two billion tree pledge and the development of carbon calculators to provide data that can be leveraged to convince others of the need for change. Paying attention to EAB and overall food security concerns can be leveraged to introduce more people to the protection of our soil, our water and our forests.
I would like to thank all those who collaborated in providing updates for this report Marc Laforest, Chris Gaudet, Gerry Cole, Mike Glynn, Keanen Jewett, Peter Duinker, Crispin Wood, Jim Landry and Jessika Corkum-Gorrill.