Nova Scotia

Canada restricts Halifax County firewood to combat 'nasty' emerald ash borer

The federal government is restricting the movement of all firewood out of Halifax County in an effort to slow the spread of a destructive invasive beetle.

The invasive beetle has already destroyed several trees in Bedford

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is restricting the movement of firewood out of Halifax County to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources/The Associated Press)

The federal government is restricting the movement of all firewood out of Halifax County in an effort to slow the spread of a destructive invasive beetle detected last year in Bedford, N.S.

The emerald ash borer has already destroyed several trees since it was first found in DeWolfe Park in September 2018. Officials believe many more trees have been infected.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Monday effective immediately "the movement of ash materials, including logs, branches and wood chips, and all species of firewood from the county of Halifax is restricted."

CFIA spokesperson Brian Naud said that means a ban on exporting firewood outside of Halifax County unless the exporter has written permission to do so from CFIA.

Robin Barrett of Barrett Firewood is waiting to see how that will affect his business.

"The discussions we had [with CFIA] is there is a ban on firewood going outside the county unless you have basically a chain of custody and can prove there is no ash in it," Barrett said.

He has an eight-month supply of wood at his yard in Lower Sackville. It contains a small amount of ash harvested before the beetle was detected and well away from the contaminated site in the Bedford park.

He has asked for an exemption and is awaiting a response.

"For a few of us like ourselves, depending on how they interpret the rules, it could be a fairly big deal. Having said that the devastation that this bug causes is a fairly big deal as well."

Why this invasive species is devastating

The emerald ash borer lays eggs on the bark of ash trees. When they hatch the larvae burrow into the trees and start eating the live tissue. That prevents sap and nutrients from moving between the branches and the roots, causing the tree to die.

The beetle has caused widespread damage in Ontario.

It was recently found in New Brunswick and as far away as Winnipeg.

Stockpiling wood without ash  

While Barrett waits to find out what happens to wood stockpiled last year, he has been buying wood without ash since his first meeting with the CFIA in December. He hopes that will allow him to deliver anywhere in Nova Scotia.

The CFIA order does not impact sales or movement of firewood within Halifax County.

Barrett is concerned about supplying customers on the other side of the county line.

Still, he understands why the regulator is responding to the emerald ash borer.

"Because it is a nasty one, locations in both Canada and the States that don't have it definitely don't want to end up getting it.

"So the rules are pretty aggressive to stop the movement. A lot of the movement has been made through firewood. Unfortunately this bug can live in a piece of firewood or a wooden log for, I'm told, two years."

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