Trees in uptown Saint John in danger from vandal with knife

The City of Saint John is asking the public to keep an eye out for any vandalism of city trees.

Four trees in the uptown have been harmed in recent weeks by someone cutting off the bark to create rings around the trunks. The practice is called girdling.

Three of the trees were lindens and one was a gingko tree.

The vandalism came to the city’s attention three weeks ago, when a small tree at Germain and King streets was damaged, said Marc Doucet, operations manager at city hall for parks and landscape services.

“Then just last week we discovered three larger trees moving down King Street from Germain towards Prince William that had similar damage done to them,” Doucet said.

Cutting the bark off in a circle around the trunk of a tree can kill the tree.

“The way that the tree’s vascular system functions underneath the bark between the bark, cambium layer and the heartwood of the tree is where basically all the nutrients and oxygen, carbon dioxide moves up and down through the tree, and if you remove that down to the heartwood then you’re essentially choking the tree off.”

Doucet said it’s still unclear if all four trees will survive. He said not all of them have had the bark completely removed all the way around, so their is hope they will recover.

The city is hoping heightened public awareness and police surveillance will help stop the individual or individuals doing the damage.

160 trees lost this fall

It has been a rough season for trees in Saint John overall. Hurricane Dorian uprooted 200-year-old trees in King’s Square when it blew through in September, and another storm earlier in October did more damage.

Doucet said the city estimates 160 trees of all species, ages and sizes have been lost this fall.

“That’s certainly a big hit for our parks.”

He said the city is working to build partnerships for a replanting program next spring to replace the trees that were lost.


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