October 15, 2011
Estimates show that within the next three to five years, huge stands of ash trees will be dead from the emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation.

The devastating effect of EAB is well documented, and a number of people in the industry foresee an arborist shortage over the next decade.

Some are asking where trained, competent staff and resources are to be found as EAB spreads into highly populated areas. The task will require skilled workers to deal with the dying and dead trees in a safe manner.

The peak of the devastation is expected within four years. As an example, the City of Toronto has 860,000 trees (600,000 on private property) that are expected to be cut down within the next seven years. Estimates determine about 700 trees a day destroyed by EAB will need to be taken down in Toronto.   

Peter Wynnyczuk, urban forestry supervisor in the Town of Richmond Hill, says capital spending is required on additional licensing and training for the injection program, as well as hiring and expenditures for additional trucks, chippers and equipment for a minimum 10 year blip in tree activity.

“There will be significant impacts for properties with ash trees and their management, whether injection program or removal,” says Wynnyczuk. He also suggested that the independent tree services receive contracts from municipalities and private landowners to remove the ash trees. Wynnyczuk said that the existing customer base could be left without service.

Alice Power, program coordinator with the Ontario College of Trades, says some have suggested that possibly logging workers could be retrained for this short-term labour shortage in central and southern Ontario.

Toronto’s manager of urban forest renewal, Beth McEwen, is quoted, “We want the general public to maintain trees on their property and to recognize that it is their responsibility.” Private tree maintenance is mandated under the city’s property standards bylaw. In a Toronto Star article, McEwen is quoted, “We want them (public) to replant trees if their trees die.”