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City pilot project looks to maintain, protect London’s old, large trees

FILE - Central London, Ont., in June 2013. Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

The Forest City’s large, old trees, specifically those on private property, are the focus of a new one-year pilot program launched this month by London city hall.

City officials say the program, called the Veteran Tree Incentive Program, aims to help London homeowners with veteran trees on their properties maintain them for longer, protect against invasive gypsy moths, and provide alternatives to tree removal.

The type of tree eligible under the program is described as a “distinctive tree” by the city, which is a tree within the Urban Growth Boundary and not in a Tree Protection Area that is 50 cm or greater measured at 1.4 metres above natural ground level.

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The program will provide financial help to residents actively caring for their distinctive trees, the city said in a statement, adding that households may claim a percentage of eligible costs up to a maximum of $1,000 per tree.

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Work that may be eligible under the program includes pruning the tree to good arboricultural standards to preserve it, having an aborist assist in the mass scraping of gypsy moth eggs on a severely infested distinctive tree, or successional planting, the city says.

A list of eligible work can be found on the city’s website.

In a statement, Kelly Scherr, city engineer and managing director of environmental and engineering services, said the program will aid the city in meeting goals outlined in its Urban Forest Strategy.

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“At this time, the program is available on a first-come, first-served basis and is not available to businesses, condo corporations, or any other types of tree owners,” the city says.

The Veteran Tree Incentive Program pilot officially launched on March 1, the same day the city implemented its updated tree protection bylaw, which passed through council in November.

More information on the program and how to apply can be found on the city’s website.

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