Updated – Management of QTN’s Tree Canopy and Forests – Q&A

Your community association and its network of volunteers have compiled this information piece to answer the most common questions on tree management in QTN. Click on any of the questions below to learn more.

The City’s Forestry Department is staffed by nine trained Professional Foresters recognized by the Province of Ontario. Professional foresters work includes anything to do with the development, management, conservation and sustainability of forests, including urban forests, which requires postsecondary education and experience. They are responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating all activities related to forest management. They make decisions such as when, where and how to harvest and reforest areas. They also ensure the protection of forest values including fish, wildlife and water.

The complete definition of what a Professional Forester does is set out in the Professional Foresters Act, 2000: found here: http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_00p18_e.htm
Emerald Ash Borer was identified as a significant concern in 2015 by the City foresters. Frank Ryan Park and Elmhurst Woods were woodlots with a large proportions of ash trees identified. Specifically, City foresters noted several ash trees in Elmhurst Woods with visible root flare weakness and increasing numbers of failures (falling trees). In the interest of public safety, the City came in and removed the dead ash trees.

Infected Ash Borer trees deemed to be a safety concern were removed from the two Woods in the winter of 2015 and in the fall of 2020. In the spring 2015, 2,500 saplings from native species were planted to replace the lost of the lost ash trees and increase species diversity. Subsequent monitoring in 2019 resulted in the planting of an additional 500 trees. In the summer of 2021, excess tree trunks left in Elmhurst Woods were removed and some of the mulch from these trunks was spread over the main trails. The planting of saplings is scheduled for that area during the 2022-2023 season as well as some discrete areas in Frank Ryan Woods where tree cover is light.
The City has identified dead or critically ill trees in Elmhurst Woods with a red mark. Although a tree may be marked at this time, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be removed. The City evaluates which trees need to be removed based on an evaluation of safety risks. For example, if there are no targets (i.e. the tree is not close to residences or trails) the tree might be left standing. The City also looks at leaving snags where possible and leaving an appropriate amount of debris for forest nutrients and habitat.
The City staff are aware of the wildlife components of the woodlots and they endeavour to leave beneficial trees when possible, including leaving the trunk of dead trees standing (these are known as ‘snags’), as long as it is a safe distance from walking paths or other features (e.g., fences, houses). You can see an example of recent and older snags left intentionally in the center of Elmhurst Woods. These contribute to the natural forest ecosystem.

Unfortunately, City Arborists are generally not allowed to climb dead trees so would be unable to cut the tops of trees out for this purpose. This has limited the number of possibilities for leaving dead trunks to benefit wildlife as they can only do this for dead trees they can reach with a bucket truck and NOT damage other trees while doing so.
Yes, as an example, in the spring of 2015, 2,500 saplings from native species were planted in Elmhurst and Frank Ryan Woods to replace the lost ash trees and increase species diversity. Subsequent monitoring in 2019 resulted in the planting of an additional 500 trees. Saplings are scheduled to be added to the upper part of Elmhurst Woods and in some discrete areas in Frank Ryan Woods during the 2022-2023 season. The QTN community association has also been promoting the regeneration of the tree canopy. At our request, the City has replaced dead trees in Frank Ryan along the parking lot and gazebo and added new ones near the baseball diamond. We have been collecting suggestions on where additional trees could be added to City properties and are periodically making recommendations to the City. If you have identified tree gaps in parts of QTN (e.g., on a particular block or near a public building), please tell us at nature.qtn@gmail.com.
The planted trees are monitored three times over a 5-7 year period using sample plots. Sample plots allow the foresters to determine the relative health of all planted trees by looking at smaller representative samples of trees. The goal for the tree plantings and for Frank Ryan Park and Elmhurst Woods is to create a safe and more diverse forest so that these areas can continue to contribute positively to the community and all the other benefits that urban woodlots provide.
The QTN association has requested that notifications for work to be taken place in our forest be provided by the City. At this time, we expect that such notification would be funneled through the Bay Ward Councillor’s office. You can sign up to receive weekly news update from the Councillor’s office here: https://www.baywardbulletin.ca/
The City of Ottawa states “Compensation for privately owned trees will vary depending on the circumstances of the removal. In non-development scenarios, replacement of the tree at a 1:1 ratio will be required. For infill development, tree replacement is required at a 2:1 ratio for distinctive trees 30 to 49 cm in diameter and at a 3:1 ratio for distinctive trees 50 cm or greater in diameter. Financial compensation may be accepted if some of the required compensation trees cannot be accommodated on the site. Developments proceeding under the Planning Act will be required to provide suitable numbers of new or replacement trees through the required Landscape Plan.”

Tree compensation requirements are provided in Schedule B of the Tree Protection (By-law No. 2020-340) which came into effect on January 1st, 2021 and found here: https://ottawa.ca/en/living-ottawa/laws-licences-and-permits/laws/laws-z/tree-protection-law-no-2020-340#section-695bd9df-6cab-4f74-88c2-8c03f3a2bb71
Spongy moth is an invasive forest insect that reaches periodic outbreak levels in Ontario. Throughout 2020 the caterpillar stage of this insect was observed to cause widespread defoliation of trees in many parts of southern and eastern Ontario. This insect caused noticeable defoliation of trees in all QTN in the summer of 2021. The insect is still present this summer of 2022; however, the defoliation so far appears less extensive than previous year.

City Forestry staff are aware and monitoring the situation with spongy moth. City staff are in contact with experts and stakeholders across the province.

Defoliation does not typically harm the tree or cause mortality. In many cases trees can produce additional leaves later in a growing season to compensate for losses.

There are individual control options for residents to consider in order to reduce the impact of the spongy moth on their property – primarily physical removal of caterpillars and egg masses.

Questions about insects on City trees or specific questions about insect control can be directed to 311 (613-580-2400 or 311@Ottawa.ca).

For more information about the gypsy moth visit:
The City of Ottawa has a variety of existing tree planting programs that can be found on their website, including suggestions for parks and streetscape plantings, commemorative tree planting, and schoolyard tree planting. Details found here: https://ottawa.ca/en/living-ottawa/environment-conservation-and-climate/trees-and-urban-forests/tree-planting

Ecology Ottawa organises tree giveaways annually during the planting season (from spring the fall). Their staff of volunteers can advise you on the best species to plant at your location. You can visit any of their pop-up tree giveaway location and take home saplings for planting on your private property. QTN has been the host of such giveaways in the summer of 2021 and spring 2022 and are planning to make these an annual event. The Ecology Ottawa tree giveaway calendar is here: https://www.ecologyottawa.ca/tree_giveaway_events
May 2022 was marked by a major storm event that resulted in many fallen branches and uprooted trees. That might make us wonder if it’s worth having the trees in an urban setting. The answer is absolutely yes!

Neighbourhoods with trees and natural areas promote physical activity which benefits health and well being. Spending time around trees and in urban rural areas helps to reduce stress, anger, fatigue, sadness and anxiety and it also helps to increase energy. Trees moderate temperature and can help your save on your air conditioning costs. They provide shade to help us through the heat waves and provide natural protection against UV rays. Trees are life! They produce oxygen, clean our air and are host to a variety of ecological species.

There are steps that can be taken to minimize the risk that trees and branches fall during extreme weather events. To name a few, arborists suggest having your trees trimmed regularly, planning for and maintaining sufficient rooting space, and avoiding placing mulch at the base of the tree.
Although an official “bill of health” has not been produced for our woods, fellow neighbours have attested of the presence of a variety of species. A diverse ecosystem generally means a more resilient one.

One invasive species has been spotted along the main trail of Frank Ryan wood: the garlic mustard. This garlic mustard is edible and was introduced as a food source. It is deemed invasive because where present, it will tend to take over areas and impact biodiversity. To prevent spreading of non native plants, we ask you to not plant along the forest edges and to not dispose of yard or garden plants in the forest. You can learn more about invasive plants and alternative plants for your garden from the Grow-Me-Instead booklet: https://www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GMI-Booklet_FINAL-FOR-WEB_May132016.pdf

4 thoughts on “Updated – Management of QTN’s Tree Canopy and Forests – Q&A

  1. Guy Poirier says:

    why is the spring in Elmhurst Woods just off Henley Street not taken care of with a clear, small channel going to the curb side drain?


    • QTNca says:

      That’s a great question and one we’ve put to the city more than once – on top of the feedback from neighbours. It is expected to be addressed as part of next summer’s sewer rehabilitation project. At the moment we have also flagged this section of road to the city for additional winter maintenance (scraping) due to the ice buildup from the creek spilling over onto the road.

  2. Trevor says:

    Great information thanks for posting this! My pet peeve is being referred to as “tree climbers” and not arborists though. We are highly trained and skilled professionals. Regarding the wildlife snags it’s not that we’re not allowed to climb dead trees but it’s considered a last resort. Its not typically worth the risk.

    • QTNca says:

      We appreciate the insight and your feedback; we’ve updated the post to note arborists instead of tree climbers! Thank you for sharing

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