Managing a woodlot in advance of emerald ash borer
Depending on how far you are far from an emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation, you may have time to mitigate its impact by diversifying your woodlot and maximizing the health and vigour of the entire stand as part of an overall forest management plan. The following general principles are summarized from preparing for emerald ash borer: a landowners guide to managing ash forests. Because ash grows on a range of sites and is associated with a range of co-occurring tree species, all of which have different growing requirements, there is no one solution. If you do not have the expertise, it can be obtained by hiring a forestry consultant or professional forester who will suggest a plan tailored to your specific woodlot.
Thin to reduce ash component
Low intensity thinning will reduce the overall ash component in the woodlot as well as improve light conditions for other regenerating tree species in the understorey.
Overharvesting ash, through intensive thinning or complete removal, can have a negative impacts on your woodlot. Creating large gaps in the canopy has a negative effect on on shade tolerant tree species in the understorey, and may favour instead the regeneration of ash or the proliferation of invasive plant species (such as buckthorn), both of which will have impacts on the future woodlot.
Promote regeneration of non-ash tree species
Retain seed trees of non-ash species that are well suited to the site. Consider releasing non-ash species thriving in the understorey by removing competing unacceptable growing stock (UGS). If there is little regeneration in ash-dominated regions of the woodlot, and few seed trees are present, consider planting appropriate native tree species.
Promote stand health and vigour
Remove trees with diseases and defects of all size classes. Retain trees in good condition (i.e. acceptable growing stock (AGS)) of all species, including ash, elm and poplar. Use silvicultural guidelines for your region:
- Ontario silvicultural and tree marking guidelines.
- New Brunswick woodlot silvicultural manual.
- Nova Scotia silvicultural references.
Conserve forest values
Retain elements of the woodlot that enhance its non-timber value. These include cavity and mast trees, stick nests, endangered species habitat and riparian areas.
Monitor for ash decline and signs of EAB
Get to know your woodlot and monitor it periodically. Woodpecker activity on the trunk of live ash trees is reliable early evidence of the presence of EAB. Thinning of the crown, and sprouts growing from the base of the trunk are early symptoms of ash tree stress, possibly from EAB attack. If you think you have found EAB and are outside of an area regulated for EAB, contact the CFIA at: 1-866-463-6017.
Moving ash wood
Emerald ash borer-attacked trees can still have timber value since the insect only damages the outer few centimetres of sapwood. However, in order to minimize the spread of EAB, you may not move ash tree articles from a regulated area to an un-regulated area without the consent of the CFIA. Although within the boundaries of a regulated area it is legal to move ash wood, this may hasten the spread of EAB because not all areas within a regulated zone are infested. Moving infested wood (e.g. firewood) to these areas may hasten the deterioration of your favourite camping spot or recreational area.
Find a forestry consultant
Local professional foresters associations can put you in touch with certified foresters in your province. Forest service directories are also available online for some provinces:
- Ontario Woodlot Association Forest Services Directory
- Federation of Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners Forest Service Directory