Canada encourages everyone to get involved in Tree Check Month
July 30, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario
This August, during Tree Check Month, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and its partners in plant health protection are encouraging Canadians to check their trees and gardens for signs of insects, disease and other organisms that harm plants. The CFIA's invasive pest cards and pest facts sheets provide more information on what to look for and what to report.
Plant health is essential to both human and animal health, as well as our environment and our economy. The risks of foreign insects, weeds and diseases being introduced into new areas in Canada continue to be a challenge due to the movement of firewood, trade in a diverse range of plant products, and climate change.
In light of the importance of the health of our precious plant resources, Canada is celebrating 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health and has outlined a number of ways that people can get involved, such as looking for and reporting invasive pests, planting native species in their gardens and buying and burning local or heat-treated firewood. People can also help protect Canada's plants by participating in the Plant Health Hero Challenge.
This month especially, Canadians are asked to check their local trees, shrubs and plants for insects, invasive plants or signs of disease and to contact the CFIA with suspicious finds.
Early detection helps manage plant pests and public involvement is key. Thanks to a report by a Toronto resident in 2013, the CFIA put mitigation measures in place to contain the Asian long-horned beetle, and in June 2020 announced the successful eradication of the bug in Toronto and Mississauga.
When a pest is found in a new area, the CFIA confirms the pest's identity and, if it is a significant pest, works with provincial/territorial, municipal and other partners to determine the geographic spread, investigate the source and put in place measures to control and, when appropriate, eradicate the pest. In July of 2017, the Japanese beetle was detected in Vancouver, British Columbia. The CFIA worked with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and the City of Vancouver and stakeholder partners to implement a mitigation program, which resulted in an 86% reduction in Japanese beetle detections within the city from 2018 to 2019.
"Especially poignant during the International Year of Plant Health, Tree Check Month in August provides a unique opportunity for Canadians to take an active role in protecting plant health for future generations, beginning with their own communities, gardens and parks. Canadians of all ages have the power to protect Canada's plant resource base, starting with a single tree."
– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
"Citizen action has been, and remains, key in detecting pests in our country. Pests like hemlock woolly adelgid, the emerald ash borer and European cherry fruit fly were discovered and reported by citizens. We need the help of every Canadian to protect the health of Canada's plants, our environment and ultimately, the health of all Canadians."
– Dr. Bill Anderson, Chief Plant Health Officer for Canada and Executive Director, Plant Health and Biosecurity, CFIA
Canada's Plant Health Hero Challenge is a social media campaign aimed at increasing awareness about the importance of plant health in Canada, by inspiring people to participate in certain plant health activities and report their actions via social media using the hashtag #CDNPlantHero.
Look for unusual or sudden changes in tree health when looking for invasive species and pests in plants. Start by looking at the tree as a whole, then focus in on specific areas. Start at the roots, up the trunk and along the branches. Look for bark cracks, insect holes and tunnels under bark that has come off.
Reporting a pest online or to a local CFIA office helps the CFIA direct teams to where they are needed most and respond before pests can spread. Learn more about invasive pests by following the CFIA on social media for updates on pest movements and pest reporting.
Invasive pests often hitchhike under the bark of untreated firewood. It's important to buy and burn local or heat-treated firewood. Don't move firewood. There are rules and best practices for the public and for industry to follow to minimize the risk of spreading plant pests.
Some of the CFIA's pests of concern include the following:
- Emerald ash borer has spread to parts of five provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba) and has killed millions of ash trees across North America.
- Hemlock woolly adelgid is threatening the tree cover of Nova Scotia and has recently been found in Lunenburg, NS, and the Niagara area of Ontario.
- Oak wilt is established in the United States. It is a risk to oak trees in Ontario due to proximity and in Quebec due to trade.
- Spotted lanternfly has not yet been found in Canada but is on our watch list.
- Japanese beetle is established in several provinces in Canada. The CFIA, the Province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver are working to eradicate it from Vancouver so it doesn't become established in that province, too.
- Box tree moth is confirmed in the Toronto area. The CFIA is working with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto and other organizations to verify its distribution.
- Asian Long-horned beetle can be difficult to spot at this time of year. While it has been eradicated in Canada, vigilance is still required to prevent future infestations.
The CFIA works with the United Nations and other partners at home and abroad to set science-based standards to protect agricultural, forest and other plant resources from regulated plant pests, while facilitating trade.
For background information
CFIA Media Relations
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