Pembroke – It has been a difficult year for the forests and forestry of Renfrew County in the county, but decimation by the gypsy moth is low threat compared to the abundant black ash being classified as endangered.
“The decision has major potential implications for forestry, trails, public works and development,” Renfrew County Forester Lacey Rose recently told Renfrew County Council. “They (Black Ash) are everywhere.”
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Ontario listed the black ash as endangered in the 2019-2020 annual report, she said. When registering under the Endangered Species Act, they are automatically protected against being “killed, injured or harassed” and this includes prohibitions on possession, transport, purchase or sale of the species. Unfortunately for Renfrew County, although other parts of the province may consider black ash to be endangered, this is not the case locally, she said.
“Many rural lots have excellent habitat for black ash,” she said.
The county submitted a document outlining its concerns regarding the classification of black ash as endangered. The document states that black ash is generally not harvested because although it is abundant in the county, it is not often marketable, difficult to access and not in demand.
“However, it is rare that there is no accidental logging or spilling of ash to create a skidding track, brush or build a road, or when harvesting near water or areas humid areas of concern, ”she noted in a letter to the Province.
Since black ash is present in many areas, it is impossible to avoid it, she wrote. Due to the imminent death of ash trees as the emerald ash borer spreads, ash trees are felled to promote regeneration of other species.
“If he had to stand or be assessed before being slaughtered to meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), those proactive management activities would likely stop and the diversity and resilience of the forests would be negatively affected, ”she wrote. “There are also significant potential economic implications of creating more reserves from harvest and bypassing areas where black ash is present. “
Additionally, listing the species as endangered contradicts the emerald ash borer preparedness guide supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, she noted.
Ms Rose said black ash is “common and abundant in road and rail ditches which are often subject to frequent brushing for safety and maintenance.”
If dead and dying trees are not cut, the trails should be closed, she added.
In terms of development, many rural lots have low lying areas which provide excellent habitat for black ash. Restrictions under the ESA for clearing and building lots would be detrimental to the claim for severance, construction and expansion, she added in her letter to the province.
“Protecting the black ash from being injured, killed or harassed during forestry, roads or development will not protect trees from the emerald ash borer,” she noted. “On the contrary, listing the black ash on the endangered species list will inevitably result in its preventive removal from private land to avoid future persecution, reduce the ability to manage forests for resilience against the emerald ash borer. and other invasive species and lead to increased human security. risks due to reluctance or inability to meet ESA requirements for ash affected by emerald ash borer disposal.
Black ash as an endangered species
The county is asking the province not to put the black ash on the endangered species list because it is unclear how the designation would help the species recover. Instead, resources could be allocated to allow for the inevitable elimination of black ash and parasitic wasp trials for biological control of the emerald ash borer.
As for the emerald ash borer, it has been present in the county since 2013, she told the assembled mayors and prefects. It has spread through road corridors and is now seen in other places, notably in the Opeongo and Deacon sectors of the county forest.
“There aren’t many ash trees that can survive this insect,” she added.
This was only part of the grim picture she presented on the county’s forestry sector to the county council. She pointed out that although gypsy moth has been the “hottest topic” for the past two years, there are many issues. She said that in 2020 there was a major infestation, it increased by 2021 to 1.7 million hectares in the province and 146,000 in Renfrew County.
“It’s a visible insect,” she said. “He is not native. It first appeared in Ontario in 1969.
The first major outbreak of Gypsy Moth occurred in the 1990s, she said. Each of the caterpillars can eat a square meter of leaves, which is why they are so visible.
“But there is good news on this front,” she said.
The gypsy moth does not kill all trees but prefers poplar, birch, oak, maple and beech. Most trees can survive two years of defoliation if they are healthy, she added.
Spraying is very expensive between $ 150 and $ 400 per hectare and would have to be repeated, she noted, adding that this is only a short-term solution.
Options for landowners include scraping egg masses in the fall and winter and wrapping or spraying jute in the spring or summer, she said. It is hoped that the infestation will end soon.
“Natural controls have been observed,” she added.
Other problems with the county’s forests include beech bark disease.
“For me, as a forester, this is the quietest problem we have here,” she added.
When trees die and come back as seedlings, they outshine the regeneration of other species and that’s the problem. There are a lot of beech trees in the area and they continue to die, she said.
In addition, climate change is affecting the industry. Storms, red pine decline caused by drought, and forest fires are a problem. Others include blacklegged ticks, butternut canker, and garlic mustard. Other issues loom on the horizon, including Dog Strangleling Vine, Asian Longhorn Beetle, and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.
“The cost of managing invasive species is high and is expected to increase,” Ms. Rose added. “There is a significant cost to dealing with these forest health issues. “
A little depressing
Manager Debbie Robinson said that while the update “was a bit depressing, it was something we absolutely need to be aware of.”
Bonnechere Valley Mayor Jennifer Murphy said the information about the black ash on the endangered species list was quite troubling.
“These species are not endangered in our region,” she said.
This is again a problem of rural and urban divide with a misunderstanding on issues, she said.
Director Robinson agreed, noting that the county could pursue this issue in an upcoming request for delegation to the Rural Municipalities of Ontario (ROMA) conference.
North Algona Wilberforce Mayor James Brose asked if the emerald ash borer is cyclical.
“Do cold winters slow him down? ” He asked.
“For the emerald ash borer, it would have to be really cold for it to have an impact,” Ms. Rose said.
Mayor Sheldon Keller of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan said it takes a long cold spell to tackle invasive species.
“Especially with LDD (Lymantria dispar dispar – commonly known as the Gypsy Moth),” he said. “I know most people don’t want to hear this.”
Admaston / Bromley Mayor Michael Donohue said the county is keenly aware of the significant pressures on forestry and the danger of invasive species as they enter. He said the ash trees are not in danger due to overexploitation.
“A tree species is endangered not because of human pressure but because of invasive species,” he said.
The downside of invasive species is that they don’t follow the Endangered Species Act, he joked.
“We have sustainably managed forests in Renfrew County, but we are increasingly threatened by the transport of invasive species,” he said.
Much like COVID, it is something that happens in the county and residents of the area then have to deal with it.
“Much of the damage to our forest has been caused by outside communities,” he said.
Debbi Christinck, reporter at the Local Journalism Initiative, The Eganville Leader