An invasive beetle chewing through ash trees across North America at alarming rate is now on the province’s doorstep
For years the province has paid close attention to the movement of the emerald ash borer beetle and when it was detected in Winnipeg in December 2017 the government moved to declare it a pest.
In addition to designating the beetle a pest, the provincial government plans to prohibit the transportation of firewood and wood products into Saskatchewan from infested areas.
The beetle’s movement is a concern for Saskatoon’s forestry branch.
“We, unfortunately, planted a lot of ash trees in response to Dutch Elm disease,” said Michelle Chartier, superintendent of forestry and pest management for the city.
According to Chartier, a quarter of the city’s urban forest is made up of ash, which puts an estimated 100,000 trees citywide at risk.
“My hope is we can prevent it. If we can’t, and these invasive (pests) move through communities they can lose all of their ash trees within 5 to 10 years,” she said.
That’s already happened in municipalities across North America that have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fight it.
Saskatoon and provincial officials are expected to meet this week to discuss a response plan.
Chartier said it will be similar to how Dutch Elm Disease is treated — with public education to stop the movement of ash firewood across borders.
“It’s a huge impact, it happens very quickly and there isn’t a silver bullet in terms of response plans.”