Several years of drought conditions stressing Vancouver Island’s trees
It’s starting to feel a lot more like summer.
The long range forecast predicts sunshine for much of the south coast, and little else.
While residents are welcoming the return to warmer temperatures, it’s not good news for the region’s trees.
Many are showing signs of stress from three years of drought conditions.
Mary Griffin reports.
“This is a Grand Fir, which is more prone to drought stress than the Douglas Fir.”
Arborist Trevor Coey sees first hand the damage done to trees from years of drought.
At Saanich’s Beaver Lake Park, almost every type of tree that grows on the south island is here.
“It’s normal at this time of year to start seeing the leaves drop as they put on new growth.
But excessive yellowing leaves, you know the die-back in the branch ends, and poor vigor throughout the crown.”
June’s precipitation helped with several previous years of drought.
But the forecast is calling for sun.
And lots of it.
“The trees in the stories in our research are telling us that about every 21 years or so that we get extremely low water runoff in these streams.”
Dr. Dan Smith is on the team of University of Victoria researchers who collected tree-ring data from old-growth forests in three watersheds on Vancouver Island, including the Chemainus watershed and one in the
They studied two species of trees: the mountain hemlock and the sub-alpine firs.
These trees predict droughts going back to the 1600’s.
That’s a concern as the climate is changing.
Droughts are the new normal.
“It started there and went all the way across.”
This 400 year old red cedar fell onto cars parked at Goldstream Park.
Conditions such as high winds and drought may be contributing factors.
“That’ll contribute right now to trees that are in full leaf.
That maybe are not used to catching that amount of wind.
Having limbs, break, or branches, or whole trees tipping over.”
Faith Celeste Archer from Capital Iron says there are ways homeowners can assist trees, with water metres.
“People always have questions about their plants.
About their water uptake of their plants.
How much to water, how quickly to water.”
Homeowners can monitor the health of their trees with a water metre.
As the temperatures warm up, the soil will dry up, potentially creating stress for trees.