Year of the Elm Tree 2021

Trees Winnipeg is pleased to announce we are designating 2021 as the Year of the Elm Tree and launching a public-education campaign. Currently, Winnipeg still has the largest urban population of American elm trees of any city in North America and possibly the world.

“Since 2016, Winnipeg has lost more than 33,000 elm trees.”

Trees Winnipeg

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) was first detected here in 1975, when Winnipeg’s American elm tree population was as high as 275,000. Now, DED incidence rates are skyrocketing. Since 2016, we have lost more than 33,000 elm trees to the disease according to the City of Winnipeg. For comparative purposes, that’s the equivalent of losing all the trees on 330 city blocks in just five years as on average there are about 100 elm trees per Winnipeg block. 

To come: Activities, events and a contest!

The aim of Trees Winnipeg’s year-long Year of the Elm Tree campaign is to get timely and simple elm tree care information and tips into the hands of Winnipeggers to help stop the spread of DED. Throughout the year, activities, events and a contest will be offered so please watch this page, follow our social media channels, and use the hashtag #YOTET2021.

“DED is highly contagious and quick removal of all infected trees is key.”

Trees Winnipeg

DED is highly contagious and quick removal of all infected trees is key. Unfortunately, significant delays in removing the tagged elms, inadequate budget allocation, misinformation and other factors have caused DED infection rates to skyrocket in recent years.

The public perception is that DED continues to be adequately managed in Winnipeg, that tree banding prevents the spread, and that the City of Winnipeg is solely responsible for monitoring and caring for public trees only – but these assumptions are outdated and are partly to blame for why we’re quickly losing the fight against DED.

We must shift our thinking to a more universal tree-care approach. The simple act of regularly watering an elm on a City boulevard could give it the edge it needs to survive, which in turn will help protect any surrounding elms – including the ones on your property. Similarly, the elm bark beetle doesn’t care about property lines; it thrives in our backyards, our parks, our boulevards, and in that illegal pile of elm wood in your yard.

“We must shift our thinking to a more universal tree-care approach.”

Gerry Engel, President of Trees Winnipeg

Trees are the great connectors and equalizers in our neighbourhoods and elm trees, which are one of Winnipeg’s old-growth forest trees, are no different. Trees and their networks serve all Winnipeggers aesthetically, spiritually, financially, and environmentally, irrespective of public and private property lines. Elm trees are some of Winnipeg’s tallest and largest old growth forest trees. By adopting the same philosophy and networking together, we can protect and save our remaining elm trees for all Winnipeggers. The time to act is now.

For more information on DED, please visit our dedicated page or the City of Winnipeg’s DED page.