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Pest forces tree cull at park
Feb. 25, 2017
Laura Barton

As many as 1,000 trees are being removed from Woodlawn Park in Welland.

Aurelio Magazzeni, supervisor of forestry for the City of Welland, said the city is going in to remove emerald ash trees that have been affected by the emerald ash borer, an insect that attacks and kills the trees.

Although the borer was first detected in Canada around 2002, he said it was only last year that the trees in Woodlawn Park became a concern.

“It really came to light this early winter when we were getting the park ready for skating,” Magazzeni said.

Workers that went into the park to prepare the area for the anticipated winter activities told him the trees looked unsafe.

One of the key aspects of the tree removal is being mindful of the other trees, plant life and species in the 6.5 hectare park. He said the city doesn't want to damage any healthy plant life or affect the area too much.

“As long as it’s not hazardous, it’s going to stay,” he said.

He described the park as a “very special wood lot” because of many unique Carolinian forest species that live there.

While at first he thought removing that many trees would cause the park area to look sparse, so far the change hasn’t been too drastic. Removing that many trees will have benefits beyond simply getting rid of the dead trees, Magazzeni said.

Once the emerald ash trees are gone, the other trees in the park — which include sugar maple and oak trees — will replenish the area with new growth. At present, many, if not all, of the trees are around the same age, so they stand at similar heights and will die out around the same time; having new seedlings will provide a more diverse canopy and a variety of tree ages, he said.

“It’s actually going to give a lot of the other species a chance to grow,” Magazzeni said.

A contractor with specialized, low-impact equipment started taking out the trees last week and although Magazzeni wouldn’t divulge the total cost of the city-funded project, he did say it costs the city “thousands a day” when the contractor is out working.

As of Friday, roughly 150 trees had already been removed, but the project could extend into the summer months. Magazzeni said typically this sort of project would be done when there’s frost on the ground to minimize damage, but this winter has been warm so there hasn't been much frost. He said the city will avoid conducting tree removal during the spring because a lot of growth will be happening then. The hope is for the summer weather to be favourable enough to finish the project before next winter.

There are signs up with information about the project to let people know what areas of the park to avoid.

Residents with questions or concerns are invited to call the city at 905-735-1700 ext. 3000 or to email