More than 40 million of Ottawa’s ash trees are expected to die in the next few years from a pest called the emerald ash borer. Many of the city’s other trees are in danger of damage and destruction by extreme weather, such as last winter’s ice storm, urban expansion, and old age.
Ecology Ottawa wants our city to protect the trees we have, and to embark on an ambitious plan to plant a million trees by 2017, Canada’s 150th Anniversary.
Caring for our existing trees and planting more will benefit us all. Trees reduce the amount of dust and pollution in the air and replace them with sweet fragrances and fresh oxygen. Urban trees are home to a multitude of animal species, and supply them with food, shelter, and habitat year-round. Trees help mitigate the effects of climate change, contribute to water retention and add beauty to our urban landscape. Plus, they give us food, shade, recreation, and noise barriers.
Small wonder trees are considered a significant and integral component of our urban ecology. The City of Ottawa is well on its way to protecting this valuable natural resource. In 2014 City Council allocated $16 million to the forestry budget, plus an additional $1.18 million in operating funds to cover initiatives such as tree planting programs, emerald ash borer management, and improved maintenance standards. The city is treating selected ash trees, but injections of insecticide are costly and must be done every two years.
A total of $1.2 million has been set aside for tree renewal and tree replacement. What’s more, in 2014 the city announced its intention to develop a Forest Management Strategy along the lines of Toronto’s 10-year plan for its tree cover, although no timeline has been set.
Ottawa is working to become a “greener” city, with forethought and foresight. All stakeholders – residents, businesses, community groups and individuals of all ages – have a vital role to play greening our city. The city already plants about 100,000 trees each year, the Boy Scouts plant about 30,000, and the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority plants thousands more.
The city should turn the tragedy of the ash borer into an opportunity to dramatically increase the scale and diversity of our tree canopy. Increasing all our efforts to achieve the goal of planting 1 million trees by 2017, Canada’s 150th Anniversary, is an ambitious, but achievable goal.
Ask the Candidates
Protecting Ottawa’s trees is a municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa would like all candidates to strongly support the city’s efforts to reverse the degradation of our trees, and to encourage the city to do much more to increase the scale and diversity of our tree cover. If elected, the candidates will determine the funding and priority accorded to protecting and planting trees over the next four years. Ask your candidate about trees. As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer two questions regarding their plans for protecting Ottawa's tree cover:
- The Emerald Ash Borer infestation is killing millions of trees across Ottawa, including about 25 percent of the trees in the urban area. In response, organizations and individuals, including the City of Ottawa, are coming together to set the collective goal of planting a million trees in our nation’s capital as part of our contribution to Canada's 150th birthday celebration in 2017. If elected, will you support and prioritize investments towards this goal?
- The City of Ottawa has announced its intention to develop a new Forest Management Strategy. If elected, will you support the development of a strong strategy and the investments necessary to realize the strategy’s goals?