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Trees and forests after the tornado

Tree replacements

The tornadoes and windstorm caused damage to hundreds of trees on both private and City property. Tree planting is vital to the replacement of the forest canopy cover in the affected areas. The City will be working with residents and communities to restore the urban and rural forests. 

Residential street tree replanting

The City’s Trees in Trust program is available to residents who have lost a City owned tree on the right of way in front or at the side of their home. Residents should call 3-1-1 or request a tree online. A Forestry Inspector will assess the site. Should there be space for a replacement tree, it will be planted during the next available planting season (spring or fall). Residents should consider delaying a request for the Trees in Trust program if their property requires significant reconstruction.

Forestry staff will be surveying streets in heavily affected areas and will be encouraging residents to participate in the Trees in Trust program for residential street tree replanting.

Replanting in City parks

Forestry staff are assessing replanting requirements within City parks in areas affected by the tornadoes and windstorm. Staff will be working on replanting plans in the coming months. 

Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program 

The Schoolyard Tree Planting Grant Program is available to schools for replanting of trees lost in the tornadoes and windstorm. Information about application requirements and the next deadline can be found on the program page.

Replanting on private property

Tree Canada, in cooperation with the City of Ottawa and the City of Gatineau, will be providing funding for private landowners (residences, condominiums, and institutions) to replace trees lost in the tornadoes. “Operation ReLeaf – Ottawa-Gatineau Tornadoes” is currently seeking financial support. The spring 2019 submission period is closed but check back for future application opportunities.

Information for private woodlot owners

Recommendations:

  • Safety first! Wind damaged woodlots can pose a serious safety risk. Care must be taken when assessing or working in a storm damaged area. You are advised to get a trained professional to assist you.
  • Do not feel pressured to remove injured or dead trees that do not pose an immediate safety hazard. A careful, well thought out approach will help you achieve your goals in a safe and cost-efficient manner.
  • Develop a plan. It is recommended that you obtain the services of a registered professional forester to develop a woodlot management plan. This plan will set out a course of action to achieve the long term objectives for your woodlot. If you currently have a woodlot management plan, it may need to be revised post tornado.
  • Seek out programs for assistance. The City of Ottawa’s Rural Clean Water Program and Green Acres Rural Reforestation Program can help cover some of the costs for forest management plans and replanting, respectively. The Provincial Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP) can provide a multi-year property tax benefit.

General information:

  • Healthy trees that have not suffered major structural damage, such as split trunks and broken crowns, may recover. Hardwoods with less than 75% damage to their crowns are expected to recover over time.
  • Denser woodlots that have been ‘opened up’ by the tornado may be at higher risk of wind throw in the future. Trees within a forest are often protected from wind by their immediate neighbours. Once these trees are gone, even moderate winds have been known to topple some the remaining trees. Be careful if you are in tornado-damaged woodlot on a windy day.
  • A loss of canopy will encourage the growth of new trees from seeds and saplings that are already present in your woodlot. Tree planting is always an option, but it may not be necessary in every case.
  • There may be concerns about an increased fire risk after the tornado. As the downed trees and limbs begin to dry out, it may be important to reduce the amount of fuel wood buildup over the next few years. Typically, tree stems and woody debris in direct contact with the ground do not pose a fire risk. Keep woody debris piles as low as possible and away from structures. Consult with a registered professional forester about the specific risk of fire near your woodlot.