Emerald ash borer and Canadian urban forests: Exploring management of a large-scale urban forest invasion

Authors: Andrew Almas*, University of Toronto
Topics: Natural Resources
Keywords: urban forest, invasive species, restoration ecology, ecological integrity, urban policy, resource management
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Bourbon Room, Astor, Mezzanine
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The emerald ash borer (EAB - Agrilus planipennis), an invasive pest that can kill infected ash (Fraxinus) trees in a matter of years was detected in Canada in 2002. Since then, EAB has killed millions of ash trees while continuing to spread across Eastern and Central Canada with devastating ecological and economic impacts. Significant resources have been invested into research examining ecological effects of the loss of ash trees, EAB control strategies, ecosystem services provided by ash trees, and consequences to biodiversity. However, there is not an active research program examining how urban forest management practices have adapted to the impacts of EAB and how these practices are changing the current and future structure of Canadian urban forests in response to it. This study objectives are to: 1) examine urban forest policies that have been enacted to manage the EAB infestation and guide future urban forest growth, 2) examine property-level tree management decisions by urban foresters and residents in the infested zone, and 3) compile data about species that practitioners are selecting to replace ash. Preliminary results of this study indicate that management of the EAB infestation has lead to adoption of EAB management plans in several of the affected municipalities, diversion of forestry budget away from planting and pruning, reduced urban canopy cover, and negative attitudes associated with low urban tree diversity. This work contributes empirical observations of stakeholder’s response to urban forest invasion, which can inform policy for managing future disturbances, as well as for others managing EAB.

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