The Gazette : May 5,2014
Re: “Montreal is wrong on emerald ash borer policy” (Opinion, April 29)
We read with interest the critical comments and opinions expressed by Mayor William Steinberg and Trevor Lane of Hampstead, regarding the use of TreeAzin® Systemic Insecticide to protect ash trees infested with Emerald ash borer (EAB). As President of BioForest Technologies Inc., the company that manufactures and distributes TreeAzin in Canada, I would like to respond to some of their statements.
Contrary to the statements of Steinberg and Lane, TreeAzin does indeed kill EAB larvae, as well as affect adult female egg production and viability. This double impact significantly reduces EAB populations in treated trees. This has been well documented in independent studies conducted at the Canadian Forest Service and Michigan State University.
TreeAzin can be applied for a period of nearly 100 days during the summer when the trees are actively translocating. This represents the period of active growth within the tree and the period of EAB activity. This is not a small window for application and ensures effective distribution of TreeAzin throughout the tree.
When trees are heavily infested, tissues involved in translocation are damaged, distribution within the tree is compromised, and treatments become less effective. This is true for any insecticide. Thus, it is imperative that treatments begin early, before damage to the tree accumulates.
When applied early in an EAB infestation cycle, TreeAzin has demonstrated success in preserving ash trees, even in areas under high pressure. Surveys over the past six years in southern Ontario indicate 94 per cent of treated trees were healthy, and only 1 per cent were dead.
We are concerned that one of the ash trees purported to have been treated with TreeAzin last year in Hampstead has died. This is very unusual and suggests that some other factor may have caused the mortality or that the tree was already too heavily damaged by EAB before the treatment was initiated in 2013.
Steinberg and Lane state that it will be no more than 10 years before we have no more ash trees. This may be true if no trees are treated and all the trees are cut down. We can point to treated ash trees in municipalities that are doing very well years after the infestation was discovered. The secret is that these municipalities initiated their ash treatment programs before the insect had a chance to cause serious damage to the conductive tissues in the trees. New survey techniques developed by the Canadian Forest Service can provide early warning of EAB attack and allow tree owners time to initiate protective treatment before it is too late.
We are very happy to be able to offer municipalities and residents faced with the EAB infestation an option to the chainsaw that, to date, has provided protection to thousands of ash trees without compromising the environment or endangering residents. Treatment costs can vary, as BioForest only sets the cost for TreeAzin to the service providers and not the injection cost of labour. Current municipal program costs for an average diameter tree (30cm) range from about $120 to $150 per tree. Treatment must be repeated every two years, since the active ingredient in TreeAzin degrades naturally, which gives the product desirable ecological properties without compromising efficacy.
Ash tree removal is an option and, when strategically targeted can support treatment programs. Most ash will be cut down in most municipalities, as many are not suitable for protection. It is important to note that replacement trees generally do not survive well during the first 10 years and many will have to be replaced and then some of these replacements will have to be replaced. It will be decades before those large mature canopies will be seen again. Economic analyses in Canada and the U.S. have demonstrated that costs associated with removal and replacement are almost always greater than treatment. If the ecological services rendered by treated trees are taken into account, the case for treatment is further strengthened.
The folks in Hampstead are fortunate to have just 578 municipal ash trees. This is a manageable number. The folks in Montreal are confronted with the loss of hundreds of thousands of ash trees, representing more than 25 to 50 per cent of the canopy in some neighbourhoods. This can be devastating.
President, BioForest Technologies Inc.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
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