National Battlefields Commission limiting the spread of the emerald ash borer

National Battlefields Commission limiting the spread of the emerald ash borer

July 25, 2017 – Québec – The National Battlefields Commission

This morning, The National Battlefields Commission and Québec City announced the establishment of a regional technical committee to fight the emerald ash borer, an insect pest responsible for the death of millions of trees in North America since 2002.

It is essential that efforts be deployed rapidly to fight the source of infestation in order to slow the spread of the insect and protect our forest heritage. Aware of the environmental, social and economic challenges, insect specialists and major land owners in the Québec region have partnered to pool their respective expertise and resources to limit the spread of the emerald ash borer, the presence of which has been confirmed within the territory of Québec City.

A research protocol focusing on an entomopathogenic fungus will be set up within days, although detection efforts have been deployed for several years now.

The public can play a major role in the detection of the presence of the emerald ash borer and limit its spread by avoiding the transportation of firewood.

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The regional committee, which is setting its sights on a long-term action plan, is made up of The National Battlefields Commission, Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, the Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec, Université Laval, the Communauté métropolitaine de Québec, and the cities of Québec, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures and L’Ancienne-Lorette. Within this group, a specific committee focusing on the infestation in the Montcalm neighbourhood has been set up.

The presence of the insect was detected in the Montcalm neighbourhood as a result of debarking last spring and confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on July 10. The emerald ash borer is a destructive beetle that progressively kills ash trees. It first appeared in Quebec in 2008. It is well established in the Montréal region and its discovery in Québec City places it at the most eastern location in Canada. Its discovery is recent, but this destructive insect can take several years to leave traces often representing but the tip of the iceberg. The larvae live under the bark and burrow tunnels that limit the flow of sap. The adults feed on the foliage at the tops of the trees and can fly several kilometers. All species of ash are targets and the development cycle can extend over one or two years.

Human activity remains the prime vector of propagation through the transportation of firewood, nursery material, trees, wood chips, etc. Irrespective of the species of wood, the transportation of firewood increases the risks of the dispersal of this insect. Citizen cooperation is essential to limit the infestation and minimize the impacts on the landscape and wellbeing.

Although it is too late to hope for its eradication, owing to a lack of efficient means to overcome it, the emerald ash borer has few natural enemies in North America, contrary to Asia where it originates. Work at the Canadian Forest Service (Natural Resources Canada) and the Institut Armand-Frappier Research Centre has led to promising means to control this insect population. Like dozens of other cities in Quebec, The National Battlefields Commission and Québec City are testing a tool that uses Beauveria bassiana, a fungal pathogen naturally present in the environment. When the insect enters the trap, it is contaminated by the fungus and, in turn, spreads it to its partners during reproduction. 80% of insects thus infected die within days.

The National Battlefields Commission has been proactively involved in Québec City’s detection plan for several years. Since 2015, the Commission has used debarking to detect the insect. On July 14, the presence of the insect was detected in traps set on the Plains of Abraham. From 10 to 20 low-grade ash trees will be felled as a preventive measure. The wood will be partially recycled as timber and new species of trees will be planted. The Battlefields Park, which groups together the Plains of Abraham and Des Braves Park, is home to some 2000 ash trees. More than 80% of these trees are located along the cliff. The National Battlefields Commission is very concerned with preserving the Park’s arboreal heritage and is participating in two research programs. The first is with Natural Resources Canada’s Laurentian Forestry Centre and aims to detect the emerald ash borer through the installation of 75 traps (Lindgren funnel and prism traps) within the Commission’s territory. The program will serve to track and share the results collected. The second experimental protocol, in cooperation with GDG environnement, involves 15 entomopathogenic fungus traps. The Commission’s action plan coincides with that of Québec City regarding bio-pesticide treatments, experimentation with the fungus and tree felling in accordance with standards in effect.

Québec City is deploying its plan to slow the infestation and protect the canopy; the municipal inventory of trees exceeds some 13,000 ash trees. The emerald ash borer was detected thanks to Québec City’s early detection debarking program. Since then, the section on the emerald ash borer on the municipal website (French only) has been improved. Today, the City is unveiling its short-term action plan to fight the insect pest. Action taken in July 2017 aims to curtail the source of infestation in the Montcalm sector within a radius of 500 metres around the first infected ash tree: treatment of some 20 ash trees with a bio-pesticide to maintain their good health and kill emerald ash borer larvae; installation of an experimental automatic dispersal device containing the entomopathogenic fungus (Beauveria) on 15 ash trees; felling, according to procedure, of more than 20 ash trees to reduce insect populations; plans to replace the felled ash trees with other species of trees. The City has documented the presence of 46 municipal ash trees within the infestation area. In months to come, the City will work on regulations to manage ash trees and proceed with a review of the extent of the infestation to determine means to take to manage the infestation and support owners of ash trees. For more information, refer to: ville.quebec.qc.ca/agrile (French only).

The Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec owns and manages 175 hectares of parks and green spaces in the City, including the Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge, Domaine Cataraqui, Promenade Samuel-De Champlain and Parc des Moulins, as well as several parks on Parliament Hill. Some 1300 ash trees are present on these properties. The Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec sits on the regional committee. So far, no insect has been detected within the Commission’s property and no felling of trees is planned on the short term. The Commission is following the progression of the emerald ash borer very closely and working to bridge its program with Québec City’s. In addition, the Commission continues to cooperate in detection through the use of traps and will also proceed with debarking.
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