Essex’s tree inventory and assessment project takes root

The Town of Essex’s new tree inventory project is officially underway.

Over the next few months, a surveyor will assess the condition, size, species, and location of each tree on Town-owned property, throughout the municipality.

The data collected will assist in effectively managing trees, plan for future plantings, and identify any trees that may need care or removal.

This plan will also provide strategic recommendations on locations where additional trees can be placed throughout the municipality.

In the 2024 Budget, the Town of Essex set aside funds to hire a consultant to conduct the corporate tree inventory and assessment.

The idea was first introduced at the September 5 regular meeting as a Notice of Motion – and subsequently supported by Council at the September 18 meeting.

Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley brought the idea forward, which asked Administration to seek pricing and present at the 2024 Budget Deliberations an “Urban Forestry Plan” within the Town of Essex urban centres. Shepley said the process helps identify problem trees that need removal and replace them in the best locations.

In reviewing last year’s storms, where tree removal was necessary in some instances, this will create a preventative measure for safety and maintenance purposes. He also spoke of the emerald ash borer that was once devastating ash trees. If the Town has all the same type of trees and a disease or infestation issue arises, that could be devastating the tree stock.

Currently, the Town’s inventory is heavily maple, so this plan will look at planting a variety of species in the future. That will prevent losing a large portion of tree stock in the event of another wide-spread issue.

The plan, Shepley added, will Identify what trees are better for parks and for shade, and what trees are best for boulevards along streets to withstand road heat in the warmer months and salt in winter conditions.Putting this plan in place is a much-needed process, Shepley said.

Currently, the surveyor is one-third of the way through the process already in just a few weeks. Essex Centre was finished last week, and Harrow is next on the list. Colchester and McGregor urban centres will follow.

Essex and Harrow centres were chosen to be conducted first, as they are the largest urban centres in the municipality.He is happy to see the survey moving along and is looking forward to results. It is hoped a report will be presented to Council at the conclusion of the survey.

Conducting such a survey is not only a big undertaking, but falls inline with the Town’s Asset Management, Climate Adaptation, and Emergency Management plans.

Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Essex Free Press