Western red cedars are dying in Delta.
According to a Delta staff report, in recent years there has been widespread decline of the western red cedar across coastal B.C., reaching as far north as Prince Rupert.
Trees of all ages are affected and scientists generally believe the decline of is a symptom of climate change, specifically recurring summer drought. Once the trees become weakened by drought, they become susceptible to disease, pests and root rot.
“Each year, in parks where cedar is the dominant species, approximately one dozen dead cedars per park are either removed or treated,” the report explains.
Treatment for dead cedars involves removing the dead foliage, allowing the standing dead tree to provide wildlife habitat, while significantly reducing the fire hazard. It would take one to two years for the dead foliage to fall from the tree naturally.
“While dead cedars can remain standing and be low risk for many years, residents have been requesting removal of the dead trees due to concerns about poor aesthetics, personal risk and perceived fire risk. Removal requests are most common and prioritized in urban interface areas, rather than more isolated natural areas,” the report states.
In general, Delta is no longer planting western red cedars on city land, except in cases where the trees have a good chance of survival. Ground exposed by the removal of dead cedars is usually replanted with native species that are better suited to drier conditions, such as Douglas fir and pine.