GTA Collaborates to Find Solutions for Infested Ash Trees

Posted January 6, 2014

Every year in the GTA, well over 100,000 ash trees get infected by the emerald ash borer (EAB), a green beetle native to Asia and Eastern Russia. This presents many challenges for residents, businesses, and the municipalities who have to contend with how to best dispose with the thousands of trees being infected and cut down every year.

The EAB beetle is an invasive species that kills all species of ash trees, except mountain ash. It was first discovered in North America in June 2002, with the spread moving into areas of southern Ontario and Quebec. Mitigation strategies were developed to inoculate, cut, and burn infected trees and are being implemented by municipal, provincial, and federal governments across Ontario.

Partners in Project Green ash trees municipal roundtable Partners in Project Green ash trees municipal roundtable Partners in Project Green ash trees municipal roundtable
Photo Credit: Yiyi Shangguan, PPG Photo Credit: Yiyi Shangguan, PPG Photo Credit: Lija Skobe, CaGBC

On Monday, November 25, 2013, Partners in Project Green organized a roundtable discussion between GTA municipalities to share individual emerald ash borer (EAB) mitigation plans and discuss waste wood disposal methods. Urban forestry representatives from seven organizations were brought together to share their individual EAB tree waste disposal plans and discuss challenges towards better solutions. Representatives included:

  • Town of Richmond Hill
  • Town of Caledon
  • City of Toronto
  • City of Mississauga
  • City of Brampton
  • Region of Peel
  • Toronto and Region Conservation

The in-depth discussion brought attention to major roadblocks: the lack of a solution that can address massive volumes, and is economically and logistically feasible. Hence for now, each municipality is working with their regional government to process their wood into mulch, firewood and/or compost for use and sell in their local parks.

That same day across town at Toronto Metro Hall, Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests (LEAF) and the City of Toronto’s Economic Development & Culture office held a similar roundtable between supply and demand industry stakeholders to design an industry roadmap for urban wood utilization. The goal was to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders to identify industry opportunities and roadblocks, and stimulate new thinking on how to address challenges and develop the market. Participants included:

  • Partners in Project Green
  • Toronto and Region Conservation
  • wood suppliers
  • processors
  • local artisans, industry associations
  • end-use consumers

They were led through carefully facilitated discussions to identify and reach consensus upon immediate next steps. Four initiatives were suggested as a starting point including:

  1. Create a marketing strategy to establish public and private awareness and buy-in
  2. Implement a scalable neighborhood-wide pilot project
  3. Build a resource-sharing wood co-op
  4. Design an online forum to promote communication and idea-generation

The importance of a holistic approach was emphasized, with a roadmap under development forthcoming in the New Year.

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For more information, please contact:

Yiyi Shangguan
Project Coordinator, Waste Management
yshangguan@trca.on.ca
416-661-6600, ext. 5595