The president of a national tree-planting organization says Thunder Bay city council has set a dangerous precedent with its decision to cut down a stand of tamarack trees.

Council voted this week to remove the trees near Mohawk Crescent, and replace them with white spruce after a resident complained that the falling needles were damaging his property.

Mike Rosen, president of Ottawa-based non-profit Tree Canada, says the decision could have consequences beyond Thunder Bay.

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A family who owns a house behind a grouping of tamarack trees that line a highway in Thunder Bay say the trees are ruining their roof. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

“When cities take a particular action, they're going to be observed,” Rosen said. “There's going to be other jurisdictions that are going to look at those decisions and wonder if it's something that they should be looking into as well," Rosen said.

'Very disconcerting'

He said that if other cities take Thunder Bay’s lead, Canada’s urban forests are “in big trouble.”

"That's a lot of trees that would have to come down," he said.

Rosen said urban forestry, which involves planting and maintaining trees in urban settings, already faces a number of challenges, such as widespread use of road salt and increased urban sprawl.

"To think …that people's perception of things such as needle loss is going to make for less trees in cities is very disconcerting," he said.

Rosen said he would like to see council reverse its decision.