Forests Ontario

Emerald Ash Borer – Frequently Asked Questions

Has Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) been confirmed in York Region?

Yes, EAB was first discovered in the City of Vaughan in 2008, and by 2015 EAB has been found throughout all nine municipalities in York Region.

Which species of trees are attacked by EAB?

The emerald ash borer is only known to attack true ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). These trees include: white ash, green ash, black ash, pumpkin ash and blue ash. EAB is not known to attack mountain ash, or other common forest species like maples, oaks, or beech.

How do I know if EAB is in my woodlot?”

If you have a woodlot in York Region and it contains ash, you will likely have EAB present on your property. Signs and symptoms of an EAB infestation in your ash may include treetop dieback, peeling bark, woodpecker feeding holes (they feed on the larva under the bark) and small D-shaped holes on the tree trunk. You may also see new branches growing out from the trunk, roots and branches of the trees. Your trees may be infested even without obvious signs and symptoms as once these signs become apparent, EAB has been established for some time and tree death is imminent. The emerald ash borer can kill a perfectly healthy tree within three years.

How do I keep EAB from spreading?

EAB cannot be stopped from spreading throughout your woodlot. The beetle is effective at moving from tree to tree by flight, traveling up to 10km per year. EAB has been spread much greater distances by the human movement of infested material such as firewood, nursery stock, logs, branches, and wood chips. It is recommended to help “slow the spread” of the insect by not moving ash material. In fact, it is illegal to move ash material from York Region to locations outside the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) Regulated Area.

Should I manage my ash before EAB gets here?

EAB is probably already in your woodlot, but even if you aren’t sure or haven’t seen any evidence of the insects’ presence, it’s still a good idea to ask a forestry professional for an assessment. A forestry professional can confirm the presence of the insect, predict long-term impacts on your woodlot, provide advice related to potential mitigation techniques (such as sustainable harvesting and/or tree planting), and make you aware of any assistance programs potentially available to you.

Depending on your situation, you may be interested in obtaining a management plan from a Registered Professional Forester or Managed Forest Plan Approver. A management plan can give you direction on how best to look after your woodlot. You may also be eligible for considerable tax savings through the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.

Actively managing your woodlot in the face of EAB can help you maintain or increase both the economic returns and personal benefits you receive from your property. By actively managing your woodlot you can promote greater species diversity, decrease the opportunities for the establishment of undesirable species and generally increase your woodlots’ overall health and vitality.

Should I remove all the ash in my woodlot?

Although it might seem logical to remove all your ash trees, this action could have undesired consequences and is not recommended. Depending on the amount of ash in your woodlot, significant damage (i.e. flooding, blow down of trees, or increased opportunities for undesirable or invasive species like European buckthorn to become established) may result. It is recommended that you seek advice from a forestry professional regarding which ash trees to remove, and over what period of time.

In the guide book “Preparing for Emerald Ash Borer, a Landowner’s Guide to Managing Ash Forests” the authors provide several recommendations including selective ash removal without over-harvesting, removal of defective or diseased trees, retention of non-ash species as “crop” trees, promotion of regeneration of non-ash tree species, and conservation of other values.

Are there tree cutting bylaws I need to be aware of before tree removal?

York Region’s Forest Conservation Bylaw protects treed areas in York Region by requiring a landowner to obtain a permit before removing trees from private property and by requiring the use of good forestry practices.  Under the forest conservation bylaw, landowners need to obtain a permit to remove trees from treed areas greater than 0.2 hectare.* Two permits are available, the Good Forestry Practices Permit and the Special Permit.

(* Note that the Region’s Forest Conservation Bylaw does not apply to treed areas less than one hectare in the Town of Aurora, or the Town of Newmarket.  Both Towns have bylaws protecting trees in treed areas that are less than one hectare and should be contacted before any cutting is undertaken.)

For treed areas that are less than 0.2 hectare (or treed areas less than one hectare in the Town of Aurora or the Town of Newmarket) the removal may be regulated by bylaws administered by the local municipality.  It is strongly recommended that you visit the “Call Before You Cut Trees” webpage to find out what tree cutting bylaws may apply to your trees, and if a permit is required in order to undertake tree removal.

See this link for local municipal contacts. Please note, The Town of East Gwillimbury, Town of Georgina, King Township, and Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, do not have tree cutting bylaws at this time, however York Region’s Forest Conservation Bylaw does apply. Please contact Access York at 1-877-464-9675 to find out more.

Are standing dead trees regulated in the same way as standing live trees in tree cutting bylaws?

 

Dead trees are not regulated the under the Region’s Forest Conservation Bylaw.  However, all living trees regardless of size, are regulated, including smaller young trees and seedlings. For example, if a landowner has a stand of large dead trees, those dead trees may be cut down; however, woodlots with standing dead trees may also have many smaller trees (seedlings and saplings) growing below the large trees. These smaller trees are regulated and cannot be destroyed without a permit under the Forest Conservation Bylaw.

How long can I wait to salvage the timber after the tree has been attacked?

Active management of woodlots with an ash component before EAB arrives makes a lot of sense; however, even though the EAB is already present in most woodlots in York Region, it’s not too late. EAB damage is primarily confined to the outer portions of the tree, so affected trees may still be valuable for lumber and other wood products if detected early and processed quickly. The value of the wood degrades rapidly once the tree dies and wood staining and decay processes begin.

It is best to hire a professional forester who can guide you through the process of obtaining a tree cutting permit (called a Good Forestry Practices Permit) and help you sell your wood to a reputable logger. For more information on selling standing timber, please visit the Ontario Woodlot Association website.

What are the restrictions or criteria for firewood movement?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates invasive species (such as EAB) and the movement of potentially infested material in Canada. The CFIA has delineated a “Regulated Area” from which ash material as well all species of firewood (not just ash), cannot be transported.

York Region falls within the Regulated Area for EAB. Firewood can technically be moved within the Regulated Area without special permits. However, to help slow the spread of the insect, the best practice is to not move firewood to a new location. Buying firewood locally and burning all of it on-site is a wise management principle that has implications for other invasive species (i.e. the Asian long-horned beetle).

If you are going camping, your campsite may actually be in an area that does not yet have the insect. See the CFIA website for the most up to date map of regulated areas in Canada.

What if I just let the ash trees die?

In a woodlot with a low ash component, there may be little noticeable impact. However, in stands with a larger proportion of ash, you may notice several long-term changes. On wet sites, the water table may rise causing local flooding. Your woodlot may become more susceptible to wind-throw or storm damage. Unwanted, invasive species such as European buckthorn, Manitoba maple, dog-strangling vine, and lilac may crowd out your native species. Competitive undergrowth of native shrubs (e.g. raspberry) may also become an issue and make it challenging for trees to become established, or for future under-planting to take place.

Your woodlot may take many decades to recover from the total and abrupt loss of ash trees on the site. Through active management, a forestry professional can help you make appropriate decisions to help alleviate some of these impacts.

What should I do for long term succession planning of my woodlot?

Consider having a consultant write a Forest Management Plan for your property. Not only will this plan assist you with decisions pertaining to your ash trees, it will help you plan and schedule all activities in your woodlot for the next 10 years.

(Also, for those landowners not classified under the Farm Property Class Tax Rate, significant property tax savings can be realized under the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program. See the website for more information).

To help alleviate the impacts of EAB, diversifying the species of trees in your woodlot should be a primary objective. Undertaking a partial harvest operation may help open up the canopy to encourage new growth of different tree species and may help capture the value in ash trees before they are killed by EAB.

Should I under-plant with other tree species or wait for natural regeneration?

It depends on your situation. If you have a diverse woodlot, with a variety of tree species that can naturally re-seed into the woodlot, under-planting may not be necessary. If desirable seed trees are lacking, under-planting may be the best option to increase species diversity and ensure you maintain the health of your woodlot. A forestry professional can advise you of options, costs and any assistance programs available.

If underplanting is recommended, what species should I plant?

The selection of species should be based on your site and soil type (texture, depth and drainage). For lowland ash sites with poorly drained soils, consider planting red maple, silver maple, bur oak, eastern white pine, eastern white cedar, balsam poplar, balsam fir, larch, yellow birch, shagbark hickory or white spruce. On drier sites with better drained soils, sugar maple, red oak, beech, white birch, black cherry, basswood, bitternut hickory, white pine and hemlock are recommended.

Availability of seedlings may be limited in your area. Call your local Conservation Authority (Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority or Toronto and Region Conservation), forestry consultant or a local tree nursery to discuss your options and find out more.

If the natural regeneration is primarily ash, should I remove these trees as well?

Regenerating ash trees within your woodlot are protected under the Forest Conservation Bylaw and would require a permit before removal. Rather than trying to remove the seedlings and saplings in your woodlot, it is more feasible to encourage the establishment of other species that are suited to the site. They will increase diversity and fill the gaps created as existing ash trees die. It is recommended that landowners focus on increasing the species diversity through planting and the retention of desirable seed trees of alternate species.

Are there any financial assistance programs or grants for managing my woodlot for EAB?

Some funding support is available through Forest Ontario’s Forest Recovery Program. Landowners must work through a recognized Forests Ontario Planting Delivery Agent, such as a conservation authority or forestry consultant, who can develop a plan for tree planting on your property, apply for funding, and if funding is awarded, help you manage the establishment of the new trees.

Should I contact a tree specialist to assess my woodlot health?

Yes. York Region has prepared a shortlist of Forestry Consultants who work in this area, can assess your woodlot and give you advice on the best course of action. Please contact Forests Ontario to request this list of consultants. You can also visit the Ontario Professional Foresters Associations website for more information on how a Forester can help you.

For more information on emerald ash borer:

Who can I contact for more information?

Forests Ontario:

Phone: 1-877-646-1193 ext. 300

Email: eabservice@forestsontario.ca

Access York:

Phone:  1-877-464-9675

TTY: 1-866-512-6228 or 905-895-4293

(for deaf and hard of hearing)

Email:  accessyork@york.ca