Monday, 6 June 2011

The Emerald Ash Borer is here

Entry Hole
I grew up playing a course that was once lined with majestic Elms. I found myself wondering how much more impressive the course must have been before that happened and often thought that watching all those trees die must have been depressing. Unfortunately we are all going to see something very similar as the Emerald Ash Borer sweeps through Toronto over the next tree years.

The beetle was first detected in Essex County in 2002 and has been slowly working its way east. There have been numerous confirmations on golf courses in and around Toronto beginning last year. Unfortunately all native and non-native Ash trees are susceptible. They were a common planting on many courses in the last 30 years and some are key trees for safety.

Since the adults and larvae feed underneath the bark of the trees, they are nearly impossible to detect. The only potential for saving some is an injection program that will protect the trees for a year at a time. But like any solution of this type, it’s expensive and not guaranteed. I spent yesterday deciding the fate of around 300 trees. There is no guarantee an injection program will work, but today we selected 100 trees to protect and hopefully save. That also meant I spent the day deciding which trees would go. I normally have no trouble removing trees, but somehow this seemed different.

I don’t think this is the end of our problems. The Emerald Ash Borer came from China and I expect more of these problems in the future as our economy is globally based. I’m not looking forward to the next three years as many courses will be dramatically impacted by the loss of trees. The only positive that will come out of this is that I have always pushed for diversity and I think clubs will be willing to spend a little more to provide that diversity and protection from the next event.

1 comment:

  1. I am by no means an expert on this, frankly I know next to nothing, but I work at a very prominent classic course in the Midwest, USA and we have around 400 trees marked for removal over the next year or so. From what I've heard from the Super, it will begin this Fall and continue into the spring and early summer. It will be very interesting to see the "new" course next year. Luckily, the property is full of other trees and is on a secluded piece of land (no houses, etc.) so I don't think it will lose much of its identity.