This West Island parkette has some of the last rare elm trees on Montreal Island and they will soon be destroyed.
50 years ago Elm Trees with their beautiful umbrella-like canopy could be seen lining streets and fence lines all across Southern Canada. Nearly every town and city has an Elm Street, Rue Elm or Elm Avenue.
Unfortunately most of these trees were hit hard by the accidental (lumber shipments) introduction of Dutch Elm Disease from Asia in the mid 20th century. Of the estimated 77 million elms in North America in 1930, over 75% had been lost by 1989.
The recent spread of Dutch Elm Disease originated in Asia. The Dutch name comes from the identification of the disease in 1921 by Dutch Scientist Bea Schwarz.
Although the disease killed millions of trees, there is evidence that Elm trees were able to survive century long outbreaks for thousands of years. The main difference is that humans have been cutting these trees and tipped the balance in favour of the disease.
in 1993 the old growth forest in Clayoquot Sound BC was the site of major anti-logging protests. In this pre-social media protest, thousands went from their cities and towns up to the remote site to stop the clear cut logging in this important forest.
More trees were cut in urban areas than were to be cut in Clayoquot Sound
What they missed was that each year where they live hundreds of trees are being cut down. Many would say these trees are important offering large benefits environmentally and culturally because they are growing where people live.
Almost 25 years later thousands more trees were cut in urban areas than were to be cut in Clayoquot Sound and few have noticed.
Most of Montreal’s suburbs do have tree replacement programs. The issue is they replace full size trees with saplings, and lose a lot of species diversity in the process. A lesson to be learned from the Emerald Ash Borer issue.
Take a look at the trees – or lack or trees in your neighborhood. They are quickly disappearing.
Many large urban trees could be a top quality source for lumber for hardwood floors, furniture and decorative construction. In most cases though, it is either dumped in landfills or burned – adding to the urban winter smog issue.
Read More about Elm Trees:
Visit this park before it is destroyed: Location on Google Maps