Forestry and related industries have been on high alert for many years now as oak wilt has been threatening to invade from adjacent states in the US.
Oak wilt is a destructive vascular wilt disease caused by the fungus Bretziella fagacearum. It spreads from infected trees through root grafts underground, or the spores may be transported by wind or bark beetles to other trees. The disease can cause a tree’s rapid decline and death within one growing season. Red oaks are especially susceptible to the disease.
Norfolk County is at high risk of being invaded by oak wilt. Our forests contain a high percentage of oak species and oak is a significant landscape species along our roads, trails, and in our parks and cemeteries. Oak is an important source of food for a wide variety of wildlife species, it accounts for up to 15% of the timber harvested locally, and its growth characteristics and hardiness make it an excellent and resilient tree in our urban forests.
Oak wilt has the potential to cause a major disruption to our local forest ecology, the forest industry, and our landscape.
There are a number of steps we must take in order to limit the impacts of oak wilt.
- Do not import firewood from outside sources. Firewood has proven to be a vector for the transmission of a number of invasive pests, including Emerald Ash Borer which was transported into Norfolk County with contaminated firewood. Buy your firewood from local sources within Norfolk County, and do not transport any wood unnecessarily outside the County.
- Do not cut or prune oak trees between April and October. This period of time is when the spores are most prevalent and readily spread to uninfected trees. If pruning or cutting of oak trees must occur, it should be done in winter months and the wound should be painted with a thin layer of shellac or wound paint.
- Learn how to identify oak wilt. Learn the signs and symptoms of oak wilt so it can be detected early. Early detection is critical to mitigate any potential spread.
- Report signs of oak wilt. Report any trees suspected of having oak wilt to the CFIA immediately to [email protected]
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