Nova Scotia

Massive tree cull in Point Pleasant Park delayed to accommodate nesting birds

An estimated 80,000 trees will be cut or trimmed in more than 10 hectares of Point Pleasant Park in September and October, part of a project aimed at returning the site to its original Acadian forest roots.

City plans to cut down or trim 80,000 trees in 10-hectare section

The sound of chainsaws will soon be ripping through Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Halifax is known as the city of trees, but later this year the largest park in the municipality will get a major haircut.

An estimated 80,000 trees will be cut down or trimmed in more than 10 hectares of Point Pleasant Park part of a project aimed at returning the site to its original Acadian forest roots.

Initially, the municipality intended to do the work by the end of July. However, in order to avoid any potential disruption to migratory bird nesting season, municipal spokesperson Brendan Elliott said the work will now be done in September or October. 

In an email, Elliott said federal migratory bird regulations say work cannot be performed that might disturb the nests of migratory birds in the region from April to late August.

"We are actually looking for forestry companies to come in and responsibly remove for us the smaller, thinner, weaker trees," said Elliott.

A tender has been issued to cut down a combination of hardwood and softwood species from the park, located at the mouth of Halifax harbour.

Hardwoods such as Norway maples, sycamore maples and silver maples will be removed from five separate sections. Softwoods including Norway spruce, Scotch pine and Douglas fir will also be coming out.

The work later this year is Phase 1 one of three in a tree-cutting process that will continue in 2020 and 2021.

As many as 80,000 trees could be taken down later this year. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

There are an estimated 100,000 trees in the zones that will be worked on, and 80 per cent will be taken down.

"What we are trying to do here is make a stronger, healthier forest moving forward," said Elliott. "The trees that will be left are the ones we feel will have a better opportunity to grow."

Acadian forest species such as white pine, red oak, eastern hemlock and sugar maples will not be touched.

"We are trying to rebirth the park back to its natural beginnings of Acadian forestry with the sturdier types of trees remaining," said Elliott.

Black Rock Beach in Point Pleasant Park. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The 75-hectare park is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists who enjoy the 39 kilometres of wooded trails along the edge of the ocean. There is also a large off-leash dog park.

"If they have a good reason for doing it then I'm sure it will be fine," said Carolyn Fitzgibbons, who often visits the park with her dog Thor. "I guess it will remain to be seen how much they thin it out."

The five tracts of land where trees will be removed this summer are in the section close to the parking lot adjacent to the Halterm container terminal.

The tree-cutting project will be the largest in the park since the late 1990s when thousands of trees had to be removed after they were infested by the invasive brown spruce longhorn beetle.

The park was also decimated by Hurricane Juan in 2003 when more than 70,000 trees were blown down.

The deadline for companies to submit quotes for the work is May 22. A bidders meeting and site visit is scheduled for May 14.

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