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From Devastated Urban Forests to Stylish Park Benches

Strathmore arborists spend the winter working alongside the City of Montreal to ensure safe and user-friendly nature parks. Our mandate, since 2019, is to cut down dead and dangerous trees near trails.

Many of these trees are ash which have been killed by Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive, wood-boring beetle that burrows into trees. This insect - which arrived in North America from Asia 20 years ago – had been spreading across North America at a devastating rate, killing over 85-95% of the ash trees in its path.

Strathmore's arborists first started working with the City of Montreal to remove dead and dangerous trees, including ash at the Cap Saint-Jacques and Bois-de-l'Île-Bizard nature parks in 2019.

We started working at Parc Nature du Bois de Liesse in 2022. At this park alone, Strathmore will have removed over 3,500 dead and diseased ash trees by the time we're finished in a few weeks' time. Work has to be done over the winter months to ensure we respect the sensitivity of these areas, including the laws surrounding migratory birds.

“These are tough but rewarding jobs for us,” says Isabeau Ruiz-Bertrand, Strathmore’s director of arboriculture.

“Our crews spend their days wading through deep snow, which is incredibly physically demanding. Machinery sometimes gets stuck. Many trails are narrow and steep, making it difficult to move equipment.”

But despite the challenges, Strathmore’s arborists love working in Montreal’s urban forests.

“It’s rewarding to make the trails safe for people,” Ruiz-Bertrand says. “And it's such a beautiful environment. It’s like we’re in our own little bubble, working in the forest, away from the city.”

Surprisingly, there is a great ending to this story.

The City of Montreal, along with non-profit groups such as Bois Public, have transformed the recycled ash into everything from office furniture for municipal offices to tables and chairs in public libraries, as well as picnic tables, outdoor street furniture and some truly spectacular park benches.

Photo: Project Montreal / Twitter

Another non-profit, Les Ateliers d'Antoine, uses the wood to teach young people in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve cabinet making skills so they can enter the job market.

Strathmore is proud to work with the City of Montreal, making Montreal's urban forest a safer, healthier place for everyone.

For more about the project, check out the video produced by the City. If you look carefully, you'll see some of our Strathmore's arborists at work!


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