This page provides information and helpful resources about the benefits of trees, threats to trees, tree maintenance and tree planting.

Benefits of trees

Urban forests contain woody plant vegetation that grows within and/or around cities, towns/townships, suburbs and other human settlements. This includes individual trees on front lawns and in backyards, rows of street trees and clusters of trees in urban parks, ravines and natural areas.

The ecosystem services provided by trees

An ecosystem service is a collection of benefits provided to humans by a healthy ecosystem. Urban forests provide various environmental, economic, and social services. These services benefit municipalities, provincial, and federal governments (e.g., stormwater and air pollution mitigation, health care costs, tourism, etc.), residents (e.g., energy conservation, property value, etc.) and businesses (e.g., tree care companies, the nursery industry, aesthetics of retail areas, etc.).

Threats to trees

Trees are vulnerable to natural, mechanical, and severe weather conditions. The health of trees can be affected by different diseases, pests, and other natural threats. Trees can be slowly weakened and killed by these threats. Any damage to public trees should be reported to the Township.

Pests and disease

While disease can start out as a minor issue for a tree, it can develop into a significant problem that threatens your property. Insects and diseases can quickly turn your shrubs and trees into liabilities if left untreated. Plants can acquire pathogens from other plants, affecting any part of the plant, including leaves, shoots, stems, crowns, roots, tubers, fruit, seeds, and vascular tissues. It is also important to apply any treatment as soon as possible because the insects spread quickly. Find more information about common tree pests and diseases in Ontario.

Spongy Moth

  • The Spongy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) is native to Europe and is a defoliating insect found in Ontario.  The first detection of spongy moth in Ontario was in 1969 and had spread noticeably across the Province by 1981.
  • This insect is considered to the "invasive" due to the fact that it has moved outside of its native habitat and threatens local ecosystems.
  • Although it is believed the Spongy Moth prefers oak trees, the moth actually feeds on a wide variety of trees, including oak, birch, aspen, and various hardwood and softwood trees.
  • Learn more about the Spongy Moth and other Invasive Species.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

  • Emerald Ash Borer is a forest pest native to Asia that has killed millions of Ash trees in southwestern Ontario and the Great Lakes States.
  • The Emerald Ash Borer attacks both healthy and stressed Ash trees when its larvae tunnel through the tree’s vascular system which delivers water, nutrients and sugars throughout the tree.
  • West Lincoln has experienced a high occurrence of tree damage from the Emerald Ash Borer in previous years. As part of our Ash Tree Replacement Program, staff removed and replaced infected ash boulevard trees with healthy trees and continue to monitor and reassess tree conditions.

Mechanical damages to trees

It is common for trees to be damaged by mechanical injuries in urban environments such as lawn mowers or weed wackers, soil compaction, improper mulching, flowerbeds, poor pruning, and construction.

It does not matter how small the damage may be, it can allow pests and diseases to enter the tree.

Severe weather damage to trees

Severe weather conditions in Ontario, including extreme winds, prolonged periods of drought, heavy snow loads, and winter browning, can damage thousands of trees during winter and summer. While some tree can recover from minor damage, others may become more susceptible to pests and diseases.

Tree maintenance

Trees within our urban forest provide many benefits. They reduce stormwater runoff, clean the air, offer shade and can decrease heating and cooling costs. Maintenance is important for the overall health of trees.


Inconsistent watering is one of the most common reasons a new tree does not survive. Keeping the soil around the base of the tree moist encourages healthy root growth by keeping the root ball and soil damp. During the first growing season, water the tree twice a week (approximately 35 to 50 litres). Watering should continue at the base of young trees for the first two years after planting. Trees should be watered from the center outward as they grow.


Pruning promotes robust growth and protects plants against pests and diseases. The main objective is to remove dead, diseased, and loose branches that hinder the growth of the tree. Any branch that crosses over another branch should also be removed, as well as anything that interferes with other parts of the plant.


A mulched garden means less water loss in the soil, so less time is spent watering, and less water is used. With mulch on your lawn, weeds will be less likely to germinate, so you'll have fewer weeds to pull and fewer to compete for nutrients and water. Mulch also improves soil aeration and drainage and reduces soil erosion. Mulching keeps soil and plant roots cool, prevents frost damage in Winter, and enhances the appearance of the garden bed and landscape. Improper edging and mulching can suffocate your plants by overheating the soil and starving them of light and water.

Hiring an Arborist

In addition to adding value to your property, trees contribute to the health of your community. Beautiful, healthy trees offer a substantial return on investment for both the community and the environment. A poorly maintained tree, on the other hand, could be a significant liability, or even a hazard.

Maintenance of trees can sometimes be complicated due to the tree’s condition or because it requires equipment that an arborist can only implement. Arborists are professionals who specialize in trees and shrubs. Your trees and shrubs will be well taken care of by arborists with the necessary knowledge and equipment. Your tree’s health, appearance, and safety can be improved by the type of maintenance they recommend. To help you hire a professional arborist, here is a checklist of minimum requirements:

  • An arborist should be ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) certified.
  • Make sure the company has up-to-date insurance.
  • Check references provided by the company.
  • Make sure the company’s main focus is tree services.

For more information on tree planting and maintenance, please reference the Ontario Landscape Tree Planting Guide.

Tree planting

The Township is proud to support tree planting initiatives to help increase West Lincoln’s tree canopy.

The Township monitors two tree planting initiatives/programs while sourcing funding and anticipating future tree planting projects.

50 Million Trees Program

The 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP) is an Ontario-based tree planting program run by a not-for-profit charity, Forests Ontario. The 50 MTP is funded by the Government of Canada, along with corporate sponsors, and donors. The 50 MTP provides technical and financial assistance to planting partners that work directly with landowners to plant trees on their property, helping to increase forest cover across the province by reducing the costs of large-scale tree planting. Forests Ontario has planted more than 31 million trees through the 50 MTP since 2008.

2 Billion Trees Program

The 2 Billion Trees (2BT) is a Canada wide program that aims to motivate and support new tree planting projects. Over a period of 10 years, by 2031, up to $3.2 billion will be invested in tree planting efforts to support provinces, territories, third-party organizations (for-profit and not-for profit) and Indigenous organizations to plant two billion trees across Canada.

What to plant?

Best practice states that you should plant a tree native to your geographical area. Species native to a region have already adapted to the soil and weather conditions and are known to be disease resistant. Native trees are more resilient, which results in less maintenance over time. Native tree species guides are available through the Ontario Tree Atlas and the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

Where to plant?

It is imperative that you plant the tree in the right spot once you have chosen the right tree for your property. A variety of factors must be considered when planting a tree, including public rights-of-way, overhead wires, underground utilities, and existing trees on your property. To avoid any damages, property owners can use Ontario1call to inquire about underground infrastructure in their plot. The service is free of charge.

Plant your tree(s) in a location that will accommodate their eventual size and needs. Considering the eventual size of your tree will help it grow to its full height and width, as well as expand its root system. The type of tree you choose should also match the moisture, light exposure, and soil of the site.

When to plant?

Deciduous trees can be planted in the Spring, as soon as the frost is out of the ground, or in the Fall, from leaf-fall until freeze-up. Conifers can be planted early in the spring until four weeks after deciduous trees have opened their leaves, or in the fall, from about the first week of August to the end of October (treecanada, 2022).

For more information on tree planting and maintenance, please reference the Ontario Landscape Tree Planting Guide.