Transporting firewood could threaten ash trees, warns Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking for the public's help in preventing the spread of an invasive species that has killed millions of ash trees.

Emerald ash borer can kill 99 per cent of ash trees in a forest

The emerald ash borer is native to Asia, but is spreading across Canada. (David Cappaert, Michigan State University)

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is asking for the public's help in preventing the spread of an invasive species that has killed millions of ash trees.

The emerald ash borer, a beetle that is native to Asia, can hitch a ride on firewood, and was recently found in New Brunswick.

"Wherever this insect goes there is a huge die-off of ash trees," said Paula Noel, the conservancy's program director in New Brunswick.

The emerald ash borer gets under the bark of the tree, and the damage is almost always fatal. (CBC)

"There's literally been millions of trees killed already by this insect. The mortality rate of the trees can be up to 99 per cent when this bug infests a forest."

Five species of ash are now on the Red List of Threatened Species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Discovery in the Maritimes

The emerald ash borer was recently found near Edmunston, N.B., and has done significant damage to forests in Ontario and Quebec.

The conservancy is asking people to burn local firewood rather than move firewood from one location to another, to protect P.E.I. trees.

The beetle will not fly far on its own, so preventing accidental transportation on firewood can make a big difference in its spread. The conservancy recommends buying firewood as close as possible to where you plan to burn it.

Noel said there are other invasive insects that have been found in Atlantic Canada, and not moving firewood around can help prevent the spread of those as well.

Some of the signs of emerald ash borer are leaves dropping off trees, branches breaking off, and small D-shaped holes in the tree.

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With files from Island Morning