A dying shame: 5 years after the usual damage

August 1, 2017


The errands of daily life recently took me along Workman Ave. in the Westboro Beach neighbhourhood. This enclave, west of Island Park Drive and north of Scott Street has a large number of bur oak trees, as does Champlain Park neighbourhood, home of the Champlain Oaks.


One  of the biggest bur oaks in Westboro Beach sits in the front yard of a property on Workman that was divided in two for the kind of infill development that has made Kitchissippi Ward ground zero in the loss of mature trees in Ottawa. The root destruction this tree suffered 5 years ago affected 75% of its root zone. In addition, what might be deemed "landscaping" on the property consists almost entirely of impermeable surfaces that do not allow water to reach the tree's roots.


This bur oak has suffered a one-two and lethal punch. It is slowly dying. 


Evidence of this appears (photo above)  in the upper branches of the crown, a phenomenon known as dieback in the forestry world. Eventually, the tree will exhibit the staghead baldness that signals extreme dieback.


Even the tree's mid-level and lower branches are dying. 


This once-healthy tree, whose trunk measures more than a metre in diameter, is likely 200 years old. Unmolested, in this part of Canada, it could have lived to be 350. It is a giant suffering an early death.


I predict that within 5 years, someone will decide that all the dead wood in the tree's crown constitutes a danger to human life and property. They will clamor for its felling. In fact, the deed will have been done a decade earlier--on my watch, and yours. 











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