City of Parksville expands species of tree at risk program

Dead Western red cedars in Woodland Park, Parksville. // City of Parksville photo.
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The City of Parksville has added five names to its new species at risk tree management program.

The initiative began last year when the parks department requested funding specifically for the removal and management of the city’s declining Western red cedars.

“This is just the ‘canary in the coal mine’ for the species at risk,” said James Arden, manager of parks and facilities, in his report during council’s Oct. 18, 2021 regular meeting.

The program now includes birch, maple, Arbutus, alder and fir trees, in addition to the Western red cedars.

“Over the last 20 years, the Pacific Northwest has seen a spiral of decline in Western red cedar trees. This has been attributed to global warming and longer, hotter, drier and drought-stricken summers,” Arden said. “The City of Parksville has obviously not been immune to this situation and has seen losses of Western red cedars greater than 50 per cent of the existing canopy.”

Lack of water weakens the shallow-rooted cedars over the course of a summer and after a few years of drought, the tree loses its ability to take in moisture, according to a presentation to council last year by the city’s previous manager of parks and facilities, Guy Martin.

Council voted in favour of changing the Western Red Cedar Management Program’s name to the Species at Risk Tree Management Program and to include other at-risk species of trees. The program also includes proactive management of street and park trees.

Last year council approved a budget of $50,000 per year for three years to fund the removal and management of dead and dying Western red cedars. The change in scope will not require an increased budget, Arden said.

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