What CVC is Doing on Its Properties
CVC manages 42 properties throughout the watershed and most have been impacted by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). In some cases, large areas of forest have been heavily impacted by this invasive insect.
We have completed a comprehensive ash tree assessment on all our properties determining the location, health and liability risk for all ash trees along our trails and property boundaries. The assessment is guiding the safe management of ash tree care and removal, and helping to direct future needs of our forests.
Hazard Ash Tree Management on CVC Properties
Since 2014, CVC had been injecting select ash trees on our properties throughout the watershed with TreeAzin, an environmentally safe bio-insecticide treatment that helps protect healthy ash trees from becoming infected with EAB. We will continue this course of treatment where ecological significance supports it and where funding allows.
CVC staff has cut down infested ash trees that cannot be saved and that pose a risk to people and infrastructure along trails and property boundaries. Many of the ash trees that are cut down are left on the forest floor to provide important down woody debris for wildlife and nutrients. Some select, larger ash are also being cut higher in the trunk (“topped”) and left standing to provide habitat for wildlife such as woodpeckers and bats. As of January 2021, we have completed the following work on our properties:
|CA Property||Ash trees removed since 2014 (approx.)|
|Armstrong Avenue Property||80*|
|Belfountain (and Willoughby) Conservation Area||445|
|Island Lake Conservation Area||1,600*|
|Ken Whillans Resource Management Area||330|
|Limehouse Conservation Area||970|
|Rattray Marsh Conservation Area||3,200|
|Silver Creek Conservation Area||2,170|
|Terra Cotta Conservation Area||1,765|
|Terra Cotta Forest||970|
|Upper Credit Conservation Area||20|
|Woolen Mills Conservation Area||95|
Unfortunately, the damage has been done. Our ash trees are either in decline or dead. Now our job is to help restore damaged areas and enhance local biodiversity. Through the expertise of our ecologists and foresters, we’ve identified priority areas to focus our restoration work to increase biodiversity in our impacted woodlots.
Areas identified for restoration work include Rattray Marsh Conservation Area and Terra Cotta Forest. Our staff will continue to monitor all CVC properties and remove hazard trees. Many of our forests, where ash trees are not a significant component, will be left untouched. It’s best to let the ash die, decay and fall naturally. This provides habitat, food and nutrients for the soil. The small gaps left by those dead trees are quickly filled by other hardwood species competing for light.
Rattray Marsh Conservation Area
Visitors to Rattray Marsh will immediately notice the change since EAB has infected the ash trees. We’ve lost most of our forest in the floodplain area of the property. Ash trees were the leading species at the property and therefore the forest ecosystem was heavily compromised. What’s left is largely a variety of invasive trees and shrubs creating a degraded non-native habitat.
CVC is committed to restoring and enhancing biodiversity to this forest area of Rattray Marsh. We’re taking responsible steps to undo the damage from this invasive pest.
Together, our expert staff teams are working to cut down dead ash trees and remove invasive species which creates space for native species plantings. We’re also putting restoration plans in place within select areas of the marsh. There are five priority areas where we are focusing restoration work over the next three to five winters to lay the foundation for healthy, diverse forest areas in future.
Rattray Marsh Restoration
Once initiated, the work for each project area follows the general timeline below:
Restoration work started in the winter 2018. Ash tree cutting took place during the winter because it’s the least disruptive time of year for nature. Winter is ideal for removing dead ash trees and invasive shrubs since:
- Plants are dormant
- The ground is frozen, so soil isn’t heavily compacted
- Reptiles are hibernating underground, and
- No migratory birds should be in the area
We’ve prioritized these areas because of the combination of ash trees lost and the invasive shrubs that have taken over the understory (meaning the plant life underneath the forest). This has created habitat that has poor value for wildlife and will not recover its previous value if left on its own.
In these targeted areas we are cutting and piling the ash trees and invasive shrubs to create workable areas where our staff can safely treat invasive plant species and plant new trees and shrubs. We are also strategically placing cut ash trees in select locations to help restore healthy forest ecosystems. Brush piles and downed logs provide habitat for wildlife such as small mammals, amphibians, insects, microbes and fungi. As the material breaks down over decades, it provides nutrients for healthy soils and can act as “nurse logs” where seeds from plants and trees such as birch and hemlock can germinate. Not all dead or dying ash trees will be cut down. Select trees will continue to provide shelter, food and space for wildlife. This approach is consistent with forestry science and best practices for ecosystem recovery.
Terra Cotta Forest
Hikers along the Bruce Trail may notice a large section of the property that was once farmed. This area has filled in with ash saplings over the past 20 years. Few other species are in the area except for several invasive plants like Common Buckthorn and Dog-strangling Vine.
CVC is committed to enhancing biodiversity to this area of Terra Cotta Forest. We’re taking responsible steps to ensure the forest isn’t negatively impacted by the presence of EAB. Together, our expert staff teams are working to remove invasive species and bring diversity back into the area with native tree and shrub plantings.
Terra Cotta Forest Restoration
Restoration work started in the winter 2017. Mature common buckthorn and non-native honeysuckle were cut down and chipped. During the summers of 2018 – 2020, we controlled Dog-strangling Vine, and any new re-sprouts of the buckthorn and honeysuckle. Over the next few years, we’ll continue to monitor these areas to manage any regrowth of invasive species. Since most of the ash trees at this site aren’t very large they have been left to die naturally. We have only cut down hazard trees along the trail system. We also planted 2,330 native trees and shrubs in 2018 as part of a Region of Peel habitat creation project. The project compensates for habitat loss due to road expansion along Winston Churchill Blvd.
We’ve prioritized this area because of the combination of immature ash trees and the invasive species that have begun to take over. This has created a situation where the natural regeneration of native forest habitat will not be able to continue if left on its own.
Ongoing Hazard Tree Work on CVC Properties
In addition to restoration work, CVC staff maintain and monitor for hazardous ash trees at all conservation areas on a priority basis. This means during the regular course of our inspections along trails and boundaries we note areas needing maintenance and we remove dangerous ash trees on an “as needed” basis.
Conservation areas not open to the public and adjacent to other properties receive appropriate ash tree inspections. Our staff assess and prioritize removal on an “as needed” basis to manage hazardous trees.
CVC remains committed to leading the protection, restoration and enhancement of our local natural environment. While EAB has done significant damage throughout southern Ontario, we’re taking steps to support biodiversity right here in our communities.