by Rhonda Massad
In their February, public council meeting the city of Beaconsfield voted to puchase more than $400,000 worth of Tree Azin, a class four bio-pesticide, to ward off the emerald ash borer (EAB) attack on ash trees. More than $220,000 of this expense will be applied to public ash trees while the remainder will be allocated to residents who wish to use the city to broker their deal for the pesticide application to their personal ash inventory.
“TreeAzin is effective against a variety of insects that consume tree tissues. In other words, not only will EAB larvae be affected, but probably all other insects feeding on the treated tree will also be affected,” Beaconsfield resident Fred J. Ablenas, PhD, Chemist and Biochemist explained in an earlier exhange, “the use of Treeazin could severely harm our songbirds, while the ash trees are going to die anyway.”
Beaconsfield Councillor Pierre Demers, the only nay vote on the council panel, was not comfortable with the scale of the pesticide application.
“I believe that our plan should be a combination of protecting and replenishing our canopy,” Demers told The Suburban in an interview. “The current plan is singularly focused on the chemical treatment of ash trees on a large scale with a heavy focus on convincing residents that treatment is the way to go.”
“I’m not yet convinced that there will not be any long term consequences to our environment with the use of a the Tree Azin bio-pesticide on the scale that is being proposed.”
According to Demers he does not think residents are fully aware that should they choose to treat their trees they will need to continue with the application of Tree Azin every two years for the life of their trees. That 5% of the EAB larvae will survive this treatment indicating that for the bio-pesticide to have any real benefit it would need to be applied to every single ash tree in Eastern Canada for a sufficiently long period of time (years) in order to interrupt the insect’s life cycle completely in our region.
“In other words everyone would need to get on board, both public & private, not only in Beaconsfield but in our neighboring cities and beyond,” he said.
A bylaw was put in place last October to force landowners of the 180 hectare Angell Woods (AW), recently designated for conservation as a nature park by the city of Montreal, to prepare a silviculture management plan for the estimated 20,000 ash trees that currently stand in the woods. The plan would include strategies for the treatment or felling of ash trees and for replacing them, due for submission to the city this spring. Failure to submit a plan would expose the landowners to a minimum fine of $750 plus expense. For a repeat offence, the fine is doubled and applied daily after that.
“Beaconsfield’s punitive ash tree bylaw has singled out the owners of private forests for special consideration of the law. We can only conclude that it is part of their ongoing effort to get the land for pennies on the dollar, “ land owner Diana Shamoon concluded in an email exchange, “Nevertheless, failure to abide by the treatment and felling laws will result in fines, not just to the AW landowners but to all Beaconsfield residents.”
According to Demers, based of the rate of infestation witnessed so far, it would be safe to say that the EAB will be found in Beaconsfield, including Angell Woods, within the next five years or sooner.
“Allowing the option to introduce thousands of liters of a bio-pesticide into what is continuously being referred to as a fragile and dying ecosystem is illogical to me,” Demers explained, “I think when it comes to the EAB and AW, we should let nature take its course. Over time, the ash trees will fall and will be replaced naturally by other species of trees, as seen historically with other species of trees like Dutch Elm.”