The Southern Courier | Nature parks: the challenges behind the felling of 20,000 trees

Along the paths of the Boisé Du Tremblay, trees rub and plant themselves with the remains of what were once healthy ash trees. Since the fall, the city of Longueuil has embarked on an extensive operation to fell 20,000 trees in its nature parks, including about 17,000 ash trees. In addition to a major transformation of the landscape, this approach presents many challenges for the city.

“It’s complicated because it’s sensitive environments. In places where there is water, you must act when the soil is frozen, because you can not intervene in the wetland. Elsewhere, we can not interfere with the habitat of leaf frogs or migratory birds, ”explains Frédéric Naud, environmental analyst at the Longueuil Engineering Department.

The municipality plans to end its felling operation in 2024, a deadline that could have been brought forward if it had not been for the difficulties of finding staff.

“We could have gone faster if the cutters were in the market ready to take on contracts, but we see it in the tender notice that there is no tenderer,” confirms City Councilor Jonathan Tabarah, who further stresses that the municipality does. does not have the internal capacity to perform an operation of this quantity.

“Not many companies do that, and those who have the necessary equipment, they also lose their employees,” Mr Naud adds.

(Photo: Le Courrier du Sud – Michel Hersir)

Refill forest areas

Without specifying a date, the municipality intends to overgrow the various rooms in the coming years. Sir. Naud emphasizes the importance of maintaining environments with new plants, especially to avoid the spread of invasive species.

“In the Parc de la Cité, for example in some places, 95% of the vegetation on earth is invasive species. Then up there are dead ash trees, down there are species you do not want, which take the place of coveted species. In the long run, it will not give a good result if we do not act to ensure the conservation of the forested island, ”he maintains.

However, reforestation can present supply challenges.

Municipal Councilor Jonathan Tabarah and Environmental Analyst at Longueuil Engineering Department Frédéric Naud. (Photo: Le Courrier du Sud – Michel Hersir)

“Usually nurseries are small family businesses that have a maximum of two, three, four species of trees. The city or the urban area comes and says: I need 15,000 trees! The capacity is not there”, states Mr Tabarah, who ensures that the city is ready to put the amounts to get there.

“We are also looking at what we can do internally, but even if we start from a nursery here in Longueuil, we have to find the ground and it can take up to 10 years before we start overcoming our problems,” he adds.

The latter also mentions that reforestation in Michel-Chartrand Park is impossible as long as the slaughter of deer does not start.

“We made citizen plantations with and without fences. Inside the exclusion, the survival rate is 70%. Outside it is 0%.

From elm to ash

In the past, a very large number of elm were found in the Montreal region. In the 1940s, Dutch elm disease decimated much of the species. The type of replacement chosen was ash.

“About every fifth tree in the city was an ash. It was one of the best choices we could make in an urban environment because it was resistant to insects, diseases, de-icing salts, and it has a large canopy,” explains Frédéric Naud.

However, the emerald ash borer appeared in 2012 in Longueuil and spread uncontrollably, killing ash trees at high speed.

“She is from Asia and did not create any problems there. It is a bit as if our ladybug landed in Africa and wanted to create chaos on the sweet potato harvest”, illustrates Mr. Naud.

“Then we’d better learn to diversify the plantation!” he mentions.

Assessment of wood

(Photo: Le Courrier du Sud – Denis Germain)

The wood from felled trees is used in different ways. In Michel-Chartrand Park, where it is easier to get it out of the woods, the city focuses on high-quality wood. The latter in particular provides the opportunity to make timber or wood floors, for example.

The municipality also sells B-wood, which is smaller, in pulp and paper, and the wood is chipped for industries that want to change their heating oil to heat their industrial process. She can also use the chips for her landscaping.

In Boisé Du Tremblay, the wood is mostly crushed into wood chips and left in the woods.

Taurus

If the paths in the various nature parks were to be closed, it was because the fall of the trees posed a significant risk to walkers, the City emphasized in the autumn. The risk was also greater as it was dead ash trees.

“Unlike other species that will remain upright even when dead, the roots of the ash tree will rot at the bottom and the tree will fall,” explains Frédéric Naud.

The trails are now reopened for walkers, with the exception of part of the Boisé Du Tremblay and the trails used for winter sports in the Parc de la Cité and Parc Michel-Chartrand. For these last two cases, the municipality plans to carry out the work in the autumn.

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