The plight of urban trees

Having lived in inner Toronto for many years, I have seen a lot of changes in the tree canopy of the city. When we first moved into our house over 15 years ago, the trees on our street were towering, some 2-3 feet in width and hanging over the street. But time has worn on, and the largest trees are slowly disappearing. Ice storms, improper pruning from utilities, poor maintenance – it’s surprising many have lasted as long as they have… but trees don’t last forever.

Below is what is left of an urban ash, clearly showing the drill lines where the city tried to prevent attack by ash borers by injecting insecticide – unfortunately it lost a major limb in the ice storm a few years back, and the wound was the catalyst in its demise. The brown staining is a consequence of the wound, which can apparently cause the stain to bleed through the whole trunk of the tree. The stain is not true heartwood, but rather a reaction to the wound, and any infection that occurs. It was only a matter of time.

More important though is to actually replace the tree canopy. Why isn’t there more effort spent on replacing the urban tree canopy?


4 thoughts on “The plight of urban trees

    • spqr says:

      Thanks for the link. I was more referring to the tree planting done on city property. In much of downtown Toronto it seems like trees aren’t being replaced as quick as they could be. This is most apparent on city property in front of houses. they could also do more to advocate for home owners with larger lots to replant trees. This is particularly important due to the sad state of many trees – partially because people just aren’t willing to spend the money to look after trees in their yards.

  1. paul6000000 says:

    The city put a free tree on our front lawn but I think they run into difficulty because people Imagine the tree is going to create extra cleanup work in the fall, remove the possibility of having a front yard parking spot, block machine access of future renovation work, make any new addition impossible, shade their flower or vegetable gardens, possibly fall on their house in a storm,…it’s hard to convince some people. What I’d like to see is a policy of watering street trees during heatwaves. After major street renos p, like on St. Clair West, they kept planting them but few survived because they don’t get simple watering. Then they ripped than all out and tried it again with the same results.

    • spqr says:

      Yeah, it seems to be a mixed bag. I notice they are now using more slow-release water bags on young trees which makes sense. It’s a shame that more people don’t want to help rebuild our tree canopy… or maintain the one we have. I have a 70ft silver maple in the backyard, and I’m sure I’ve spent a bunch of money over the past 15 years keeping it in good condition. Thank heavens for the ravines!

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