The emerald ash borer (EAB) has become a nightmare for the Canadian government, cities, and homeowners. These pesky little green beetles, native to northeast Asia and first detected in Canada in 2002, are destroying ash trees throughout the country, and there appears to be no end in sight.
The invasion of the emerald ash borer
In the last 15 years, the EAB has killed an estimated 15 million ash trees in Canada. Municipalities, along with agencies such as the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Canadian Forest Service, are doing their best to come up with workable solutions to the problem but the emerald ash borer is tenacious.
Municipalities have warned residences to prepare for the rising costs of the battle against the emerald ash borer and for the catastrophic loss of trees throughout the country. The loss of the ash from the ecosystem is potentially devastating for any region. It can lead to an increase in the number of invasive plants, change soil composition, and have a negative effect on the species that rely on the ash trees for their survival.
The destructive power of the emerald ash borer lies in its larvae that feed on the cambial layer of the tree, disrupting the flow of nutrients and water from the roots to the canopy. On average it takes approximately two years for an infected ash tree to die. Unfortunately, the emerald ash borer is not only drilling into trees across the country, but it is also drilling deep into city budgets.
The cost of the emerald ash borer invasion
The invasive beetle has few natural enemies in Canada and as such, there is nothing keeping it in check. Once it invades an area, removal of infected trees is usually the only option. Trees attacked by the emerald ash borer pose a risk to both people and property as they slowly die and their branches start falling off before they finally topple over. In some instances, towns have even had to close their parks to protect their residents. But the removal of trees affected by emerald ash borer is costly, running into the millions for most districts, and someone has to foot the bill.
Municipalities are responsible for the removal of city trees that have been affected by emerald ash borer but home and property owners are responsible for the trees on their properties. They have to pay to have dead and dying trees removed, and it costs over $1000 per tree, so dealing with this invasion is not just draining the coffers of the cities, it is also expensive for ordinary households.
And then, of course, there are those trees where ownership is not that straight forward. Who pays for those? Who is responsible for ash trees planted on an easement where the homeowner owns the property but the city has overall usage rights to it? According to the city, even though they have the usage of an easement, this does not mean they are responsible for the maintenance of the land and the ash trees remain the responsibility of the homeowner.
What is the timeline for the removal of infected trees?
Fortunately, in most parts of the country affected by emerald ash borer, cities are not forcing property owners to remove infected trees immediately. Homeowners should, however, be aware that they are responsible for any injury or damage caused by trees on their property and need to have a plan of action with regards to emerald ash borer, and the management and removal of infected trees on their property.
If you suspect that any ash trees on your property have been infected by emerald ash borer, you need to contact a professional tree service company, like Martin’s Tree Service, immediately and formulate a comprehensive plan of action.