Tree conservation takes root in Prince Edward County

(Gazette file photo)

SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

Prince Edward County council received an update by way of a report on the local Tree Preservation and Management Policy on Thursday, January 13 from the Environmental Services and Sustainability Supervisor, Albert Paschkowiak. The report also suggested council implement an Adopt-A-Tree Program as an incentive for the public to plant more trees in concert with the municipality’s activities.

The policy in question follows the January 14, 2021 implementation of the Tree Management and Preservation Policy. As per the recent staff report, this policy requires replanting of trees to maintain a net zero loss of trees on municipal property.

“This requirement presented a challenge as the County currently does not have equipment or staff available for tree maintenance such as watering,” wrote Paschkowiak.

To assess the scale of work required to implement the policy, staff undertook a tree inventory beginning in the summer of 2021. This inventory will serve as a database “for all things tree-related” and is intended to track tree assessments, monitor tree condition, and serve as a database of all things tree-related on municipal property.

The database tracks several tree characteristics, health, location data, and includes a hazard assessment for each tree. Part of the tree assessments focus on potential hazards and rely on reports from the public as well as staff observation.

“The hazard assessment is considered when determining the sequence for removal with an emphasis on addressing trees representing the most imminent danger to the public,” Paschkowiak stated.

As per the policy mandate to provide a net zero tree loss in the county, the database also tracks the status of tree replacement and ultimately will allow staff to gauge the success of the initiative.

Trees can be added to the database when a “tree related incident occurs”, when a concern relating to the tree is raised by a member of the public, or through municipal assessment.

The proposed Adopt-A-Tree program is, unlike the preservation and management policy, focused more on increasing-or, at least-maintaining the local tree count. It is a multi-faceted plan that includes a seedling giveaway, working with community programs to plant and maintain trees, the right of way tree adoption program.

“Each year, a large number of trees are lost on Prince Edward County (the “County”) owned property due to age, disease, weather conditions, and other factors. The County recognizes the impact that losing these trees has to our natural environment and to our communities,” wrote Paschkowiak. “The County is implementing an Adopt-a-Tree program to allow citizens to take part in Tree Stewardship within the County with the goal of maintaining tree cover. The Adopt-a-Tree program provides a way for citizens to participate in tree planting, maintenance, and monitoring and is intended to increase the number of replacement trees planted each year.”

Councillor Kate MacNaughton. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Reportedly, the Adopt-a-Tree Program has the following goals

  • improve the number of trees planted throughout the County;
  • contribute to maintaining a zero-net loss of trees on county property;
  • improve public participation in tree management, planting, and maintenance; and
  • make it feasible to plant trees in areas where trees are difficult to maintain for logistical reasons.

In 2021, the municipality supported and/or undertook the following tree planting activities:

  • The County provided support to the “Tree the County” community group in the planting of 13 trees at the Delhi Park on September 25, 2021. Support included provision of planting locations, mulch, a portable water tank, tree guards, and support regarding health and safety considerations.
  • Quinte Conservation Authority planted 30 Speckled Alders and a large number of shrubs and plants at the Delhi Park on October 27, 2021. This planting was supported by a number of groups including members of the Natural Cover Working Group (part of the Environmental Advisory Committee to Council) as well as staff from Operations and Recreation & Community Facilities. Planting was undertaken in an effort to control invasive wild parsnip and to naturalize the riparian area next to Marsh Creek. Species were selected for their suitability to difficult conditions and their ability to out compete invasive species.
  • Operations undertook the planting of seven trees at the Prince Edward County Fair Grounds and seven additional trees at Delhi Park.
  • A large-scale planting program was undertaken to add trees to the Jasper Avenue development by Development Services staff, a developer financed initiative as per the Tree Management Policy.

Speaking to Paschkowiak, Councillor Kate MacNaughton inquired as to the number of seedlings to be given away as part of the Adopt-A-Tree Program.

“It will depend on the operations budget and how much is approved within our realm,” responded Paschkowisk, “I think a good number to start at is approximately 1000 trees.”

“Will you be consulting as far as species with the natural cover group,” inquired MacNaughton. “Or will you hope that the Quinte Conservation seed list will meet your needs?”

As per municipal policy, a diversity of tree species must be planted to replace existing trees.

“If we aren’t able to maintain the diversity required, we may look at sourcing elsewhere or have a discussion about reducing the diversity requirements,” stated Paschkowiak. “One other thing is the hope is that by doing the seedling giveaway, we are able to combat some of the effects of the emerald ash bore, which seems to be quite the problem in the county the last few years. The thought is we can use this to maintain forest cover and get more trees in the ground to replace those trees.”