August 9, 2019 4:16 pm
Updated: August 9, 2019 5:17 pm

Ash tree seeds needed for species repopulation efforts, experts say

WATCH: Ash trees across the region are in danger because of the Emerald Ash borer, an invasive pest. But as Megan Yamoah reports, a seed bank can help.

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The emerald ash borer is an invasive Asian beetle that has made its way to the Maritimes. With no natural predators, the small green beetles are now wiping out ash trees along river banks and in city centres.

“We could lose all of the ash trees which are millions and millions of ash trees throughout eastern Canada,” said Donnie McPhee, a forest genetics technician with the Canadian Forest Service.

New Brunswickers have been asked to avoid transporting firewood, which is one of the leading causes behind the beetles’ mobility across the country.

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“Under natural conditions from Ottawa to New Brunswick it would have taken about 1,500 years for it to get here naturally, but because of human vectors it make it here in less than 10,” said McPhee.

READ MORE: Emerald ash borer found in Oromocto, N.B.

The national tree centre is looking to collect seeds from different regions throughout Canada for conservation purposes. The tricky part is finding trees in seed.

“Ash only come into seed every five to seven years, but when it is in seed we want to [be] out there making sure we’re making collections and then storing them at our facility,” said McPhee.

Once the seeds are found and stored they will be replanted as deceased ash trees are taken down.

The city was not available for comment but the City of Fredericton website states removal of ash trees will be necessary to control the insect’s rate of spread and minimize the risk to public safety.

The emerald ash borer has not been found in Fredericton, but it has been discovered in Oromocto and Edmundson, New Brunswick, as well as Halifax.

“Every third tree in the city of Fredericton was a white ash,” said McPhee. “They are going to be gone, [and] without our riverbanks being held together by green ash in particular and black ash, you’re going to see more flooding.”

WATCH: Federal agency warns invasive beetle will spread throughout Maritimes

Natural Resources Canada needs assistance from the public in finding those seeds.

“If they see natural ash populations in seed they can contact the National Tree Seed Centre,” he said. “Check out our website; all of our information is there to contact and how they can help.”

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