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Annual Report 2018

Forestry students create plan to tackle green beetle invasion

Group member Sacha Gascoigne. Photo credit: Marnie Demand

New Brunswick’s beautiful and bountiful forest landscapes are at risk, and UNB is on the front line to defend them.

The emerald ash borer beetle is notorious for decimating the ash tree population throughout southern Ontario. The bug has not yet been detected in New Brunswick, but it has quickly travelled close by crossing Ontario to Winnipeg and Quebec City.

A group of 12 forestry and environmental management graduates believe that over time, the beetles will eventually make their way to the forests of New Brunswick, likely ferried in on firewood.

“These are very efficient bugs,” says group member Sacha Gascoigne. “It only takes a few of them, and then you have a problem.”

Once the beetles are detected in an area, nearly every untreated ash tree dies within six years.

“In the end, the trees become brittle and unpredictable. They can come crashing down with no warning,” says another member of the team, Marnie Demand. “This could be extremely hazardous for people and infrastructure.”

To prevent any possible threats to the future of New Brunswick’s ash trees, the group is suggesting that the City of Fredericton set up sticky pheromone traps and monitor the nine areas as a precaution. For, if and when, the beetles are detected, the group wants to see the city implement its plan and plant healthy ash trees with a pesticide that wards off the green beetle. Demand says the injections will help lower the potential for human injury and damage to public and private property.

The treatment that will be used to ward off the bugs will be limited and costly, although the team believes that having a proactive approach rather than a reactive one will save the city money in the long run.

“I don’t think people are aware of the magnitude of what this problem could be,” says Gascoigne.

Between seven and eight per cent of trees in the parks and trails surveyed by the group are ash, and while those numbers aren’t particularly high, Gascoigne believes that, if infested, the effects will be devastating.

The group’s plan, Two Steps Forward: An Urban Forest Management Plan for Fredericton’s Parks and Trails, was developed for this year’s 4020 Capstone Practicum, along with seven other groups.

In addition to the management plan, the group has created an inventory of every tree in nine of the city’s parks, noting each tree’s size, species, health, value and GPS location.

The plan also includes a pruning management schedule to help maintain trees in good health.

“A maintenance schedule will give the trees a longer, healthier life,” says Gascoigne.