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  #1  
Old Posted Jun 21, 2008, 4:11 PM
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Winnipeg's urban forest: What price does one put on precious trees?

The urban forest
What price does one put on precious trees?


Catherine Mitchell

Updated: June 21 at 12:25 AM CDT | Winnipeg Free Press Commentary

Hope springs eternal, and so it is with the ash trees on Ash Street. The ashes have looked more than a little forlorn for years on the once-leafy stretch in north River Heights, but infestations of the scale insect and a particularly bad cankerworm plague, years back, denuded most of the trees on my block.

This week, however, I discovered that many of the same trees have good coverage again. Not the kind of verdant canopy cover that is the renown of the neighbourhood, but they do not look dead yet. I thank the heavy rains.

Arborist Mike Allen is less optimistic for the trees on blocks nearby. The former city forester runs his own business now and surveys the health of trees regularly in his work. Allen says the trees on blocks of Lanark and Lindsay are in trouble.

City forester Dave Domke says the city usually considers trees with half of their branches barren -- as is the case, Allen says, on Lanark and Lindsay -- to be dying or dead.

These streets illustrate just a piece of the threat that looms over Winnipeg's vaunted green canopy, composed of majestic elms (the largest population in North America), ancient cottonwoods and sympathetic ashes that spread their limbs to shield us from the prairie sun. The city estimates that there are up to 300,000 planted trees on public boulevards and in parks. The entire urban forest is thought to contain up to eight million trees, a cheap way to replenish fresh air and beautify the landscape, an immeasurable benefit against the concrete jungle.

Thousands of trees, however, die each year; an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 trees are taken out annually in the Dutch elm disease control program alone. The city plants a mere fraction of that each year: 2007 was a banner year for replanting, with 2,300 going into the ground because of a special injection of funds budgeted by Mayor Sam Katz. That replanting budget, however, was reduced this year, and it is expected that 1,300 trees will go into the ground in 2008.

Domke says the replanting depends on the money available.

Successive city councils have not assigned real value to the urban forest, foresters say. What is the value? A conservative estimate would run in excess of a billion dollars -- the 160,000 elms alone are valued at $760 million. The city forester this year has an operating budget of $800,000 (the program for the Dutch elm disease is separate).

The looming threat now is the emerald ash borer, which is eating its way across urban and natural forests of North America. It is expected to arrive in Winnipeg any time. There is no feasible defence against the infestation, which strikes with a voraciousness and speed that sees 80 or 90 per cent of ashes killed, Domke notes. Ash trees make up 50 to 60 per cent of the trees beyond the core area. There was an aggressive campaign to fight Dutch elm disease, which Domke credits with saving 150,000 of the remaining elms. A control program is not practical for the emerald ash borer. In Toronto, they watch the trees die and cut 'em down.

Winnipeg's streets have been planted with uniform species, and while the elms of old were taken from saplings grown naturally along the river banks, thereby bestowing upon them a biological diversity that helped them weather the worst of Dutch elm disease, the same cannot be said for the ashes. Indeed, the city relies upon the stock grown -- cloned that is -- by the private industry, something that Allen says makes the forest here, as it is added to in new developments or rejuvenated by the city, vulnerable to threats that capitalize on a lack of biodiversity and the monoculture mentality.

There are ways to fight back and one element is impressing upon councillors the value of protecting a celebrated asset. Domke prepared a report comparing his budget to that of other urban centres. In 2004, Saskatoon spent $11.43 per capita on its trees, compared to the $6.40 per capita Winnipeg now spends.

Further, he has plans to grow, from seed, variants of hardy prairie trees that would be better able to withstand the environmental conditions, but, like the elms of old, muster some resistance to bugs and other threats. It's not a cheap proposition and it depends on how council responds to the request.

But imagine the cost to the urban psyche, the psychological toll of watching the forest yield to concrete. I've seen a small piece of that play out on my street. It wasn't pretty, most certainly it was distressing and very near depressing.


catherine.mitchell@freepress.mb.ca
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  #2  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2008, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Only The Lonely.. View Post
The urban forest
What price does one put on precious trees?


Catherine Mitchell

Updated: June 21 at 12:25 AM CDT | Winnipeg Free Press Commentary

[...]

There are ways to fight back and one element is impressing upon councillors the value of protecting a celebrated asset. Domke prepared a report comparing his budget to that of other urban centres. In 2004, Saskatoon spent $11.43 per capita on its trees, compared to the $6.40 per capita Winnipeg now spends.

[...]


catherine.mitchell@freepress.mb.ca
That's reassuring, but both of our cities should increase their budgets for our urban forests. A dense tree canopy feels very healthy...and Toronto just lets em' die? A big city thing

On a personal note, the city came by and removed three infected trees from our front yard. We have two other trees in our front yard, but losing three mature trees really sucks. The city will replant new trees, although it sounds like they'll be saplings


Source

Yep, black fungus was the culprit
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  #3  
Old Posted Jun 22, 2008, 1:51 AM
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Thunder Bay's urban forest was recently valued at over $11M. I'd put it higher than that, though. For a city built on forests, we sure don't do much to maintain an urban one.


I love the irony of this. Hate the fact that it's allowed but will take solace in the fact that our market isn't robust enough to see this thing break ground for a few years. It might be saved yet.

Winnipeg has a fantastic urban tree canopy. The city should do everything it can to maintain it, even if it means felling mature trees that have diseases.
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Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 6:06 AM
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Putting a price on the urban forest...

Killing a tree could leave you bankrupt in Saskatoon
Darren Bernhardt, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, July 10, 2008

If a tree falls in Saskatoon's urban forest, someone's going to pay.

In a bid to protect its trees from developers who consider them nuisances, the city is assigning a monetary value to every tree in its 100,000-plus urban forest.

The value is how much you'll have to pay if you yield to the urge to play lumberjack.

Bringing down one wide and towering American elm on a boulevard in the city's Varsity View will set you back $46,412.

The price per tree is based on factors including age, replacement cost, species, size, location and condition, said Ian Birse, superintendent of urban forestry for the City of Saskatoon.

The city is concerned about trees in older neighbourhoods shrouded by decades-old leafy canopies.

"People choose to live in those areas because of that canopy. I do," said Birse. "But there are those who don't want them around and we're losing some, but we're trying to do what we can to prevent it."

The city has a fight on its hands. Trees are quickly becoming endangered in the rush to capitalize on the economic prosperity that's sweeping through the province.

A development boom has spurred an expansion of roadways, residential areas and businesses in Saskatoon, where the soaring value of real estate continues to push rents and home prices into the stratosphere.

The average price for existing homes is Saskatoon has gone from $160,547 in 2006 to $310,386 this year.

City-owned trees in areas slated for construction have been labelled with bright yellow notices that declare them "protected."

If that's not enough of a deterrent, the city is ready to branch out and take the matter to court.

There are a couple of cases going through legal channels involving people who were found to be boring holes into trees and pouring in herbicide in an attempt to kill off a tree they didn't want around, said Birse.

The city is sensitive about its trees, partly because they didn't come easy. In the early days of this once-barren prairie town, nurseries were established to conduct research and trials as to what types of trees were best suited to the climate.

The result is a lush community teeming with varieties of ash and maple, birch, linden, oak, pine and spruce.

The city also levies a charge against drivers found at fault for a motor-vehicle accident in which a tree is damaged.

Even the hint of a possible construction project will bring out the tree cavalry to tag the timbers.

Recently, Birse's department marked eight elms lined up in an L-shape around a row house located on a corner lot near the trendy Broadway district. The total value of the trees was in the range of $200,000.

"At the time we did this, the information we had was that some kind of construction might happen," Birse said. "We get a little nervous when we hear (the word) 'construction.' We try to be proactive."

Even so, Birse admits not every tree is going to be saved. A financial penalty is only effective if it actually makes an impact on someone's pocketbook.

"For a multi-millionaire, what's $30,000 for a tree to him?" Birse said.

He said the next best deterrent is neighbourhood vigilance.

Birse said he is hoping to enlist all Saskatoon residents as additional sentries, keeping an eye out for any outrages against the city's trees.

"They can be out eyes and ears because we can't be everywhere," he said.


© Saskatoon StarPhoenix 2008

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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 5:59 PM
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Awesome..

Good on you Saskatoon.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 6:43 PM
StealthGirl StealthGirl is offline
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I hope Saskatoon's tree policy has teeth and other cities like Winnipeg and Regina adopt a similar stance. Make it clear that trees are valued before you hit a critical point where developpers think they could just take trees out.
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Old Posted Jul 11, 2008, 8:57 PM
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I'd like to see something similar here, as well.
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Old Posted Jul 14, 2008, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Only The Lonely.. View Post

Awesome..

Good on you Saskatoon.
Not that I disagree per se with the sentiment, but I find it odd governments care more about trees than human beings. I am writing a master's thesis on occupational health and safety fatalities resulting from corporate wrong doing, and the average fine for failing to reasonably protect a worker from risks, resulting in death seems to be a fraction of this cost.

Our priorities are messed up...you can't plant human beings.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2008, 10:49 PM
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my st is going to be loosing another tree soon :'( (btw that red fence is one of a few intact cement panel fences left in the city from 90-100 years ago
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  #10  
Old Posted May 19, 2009, 9:51 PM
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Winnipeg trees to be injected with trial vaccine for Dutch elm disease

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | 2:19 PM CT

Winnipeg will be the national test site for a new vaccine against Dutch elm disease, a deadly fungus that has devastated native populations of elm trees from Saskatchewan to the east coast of Canada.

Two hundred healthy trees in Kildonan Park and Wildwood Park will be injected with Dutch Trig, a biological vaccine developed at the University of Amsterdam by a company from the Netherlands. The vaccine, which must be injected annually, doesn't cure trees infected with DED but is thought to prevent it.

According to the Dutch Trig website, the vaccine induces a response from the immune system of the tree and spurs the tree's natural defence mechanisms. With that induced resistance, the elm is able to successfully fend off a DED infection using its own resistance mechanisms.

Registered and used in Europe since 1992, it has been extensively tested in the United States since 1995 and fully registered in that country since 2005.

It has used in 2,500 trees in the United States, throughout Chicago, Denver, Seattle and along the east coast. In the Netherlands, there are 32,000 trees that are receiving the treatment.

Health Canada to monitor results
Health Canada will review the results from the Winnipeg test and decide if the product should be made available for sale in this country, said City of Winnipeg forester Martha Barwinsky.

The first Winnipeg trees were inoculated Tuesday at Kildonan Park, during a demonstration for the media.

In the past three years, Winnipeg has lost more than 12,000 trees to DED, said Barwinsky, noting there are about 165,000 elms in Winnipeg's urban forest — on both public and private property.

The American elm, a hallmark of Canadian boulevards, parks and playgrounds can grow up to 35 metres high and can live 300 years. But once a tree is infected with DED, its lifespan is shortened to just a few years.

The disease is caused by a fungus carried by bark beetles. The tree reacts to the presence of the fungus by plugging its own tissues. That prevents water and nutrients from travelling up the trunk, eventually killing it.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 1:36 PM
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here's a tree policy.... instead of penalising people reward those who plant trees!!
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2014, 2:53 AM
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WPG's urban forest - July 2014



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  #13  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2014, 5:39 AM
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Too bad that were losing so many of the tree along Winnipeg's river-ways with the persistent high water the past couple of years.
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Old Posted Jul 12, 2014, 8:49 PM
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The monsterous elm across the streetfrom me is going. Whaaa!
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Old Posted Jul 12, 2014, 10:20 PM
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lobby for a new one to be planted
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