Forest Ontario recognizes a 170-year-old and 24 meters tall Bur Oak Tree as the first heritage tree of Vaughan. The tree is in the Dunrobin crescent parkette, which is located in the village of Kleingburg. According to the city documents, the Bur Oak Tree is 408 cm in circumference.
“The Heritage Tree Program collects and tells the stories of Ontario’s unique trees,” according to the Forest Ontario Website, “…the program brings awareness to the social, cultural, historical and ecological value of trees.”
Any tree that has historical significance can qualify as a heritage tree. A heritage tree is protected by Forest Ontario and cannot be removed unless it becomes dangerous, is sick or dies of old age.
Even though the tree is older than the confederation, Coun. Marilyn Iafrate nominated it to get it recognized for Canada’s 150th birthday.
“Ms. Joan Love raised awareness of this tree to Vaughan Council prior to 2010 when the subdivision concept was being established,” says Coun. Marilyn Iafrate, “As a result, City of Vaughan staff worked with the developer to retain the tree and give it prominence in the new community.”
Joerg Hettmann, the Interim Manager of Forestry and Horticulture with the city of Vaughan is also an arborist. “I was actually the person who inspected the tree and verified that the tree is in good health,” he says.
The area around the tree was stopped from being developed to protect it from potential damage. The city built a parkette around the tree so it would have minimum disturbance. Hettmann says this is because old trees are very sensitive, just like old humans. They recover poorly from injuries and stress.
Hettmann monitors the tree along with the city. They fertilize it, maintain it regularly and keep an eye on it for any changes. It is set up in a low impact environment, which is the best way to maintain a tree like this, he says. If the tree continues to live in a low impact environment, it will live longer “as it has no pressures on it,” Hettmann says.
Currently, the city is not doing much work with the tree because it is in a stable condition; however, if the situation changes, the city will accommodate. Eventually, the tree will be set up for scheduled check ups by an arborist. These checkups can be somewhere from one to five years, depending on the condition of the tree.
The Bur Oak tree can be accessed by the public. “The tree is the focal point of the community and can be seen from far away,” says Coun. Iafrate.
Click here to nominate a heritage tree in your area via Forest Ontario.