RDCO directors update bylaws to ban three invasive tree species

RDCO chop Tree of Heaven

The Regional District of Central Okanagan has made changes to its noxious weed control bylaw effectively banning three specific invasive tree species from the region.

At the top of the list is the Tree of Heaven, which was already banned by the City of Kelowna nearly two years ago.

The District of Lake Country also took the axe to the tree in Carr's Landing and Okanagan Centre in 2022.

"The Tree of Heaven is a very fast growing, invasive plant," said chief bylaw enforcement officer Dan Maja.

The tree originally came from China and is popular as a shade tree.

However, Maja says it has the ability to release toxins into the ground and take over an area.

"It is also the preferred host to the spotted lanternfly...an invasive insect that loves fruit."

The spotted lanternfly has not yet made its way to B.C., however the species has arrived in Ontario.

While the bylaw takes effect immediately, Maja says the regional district's intention is to educate and work with homeowners who have these trees on their property.

"I don't want to be heavy-handed in ordering the moving of these things. I want to take a measured approach.

"There are only so many tree removal companies working in the Okanagan so there will be those constraints as well for homeowners."

Along with the Tree of Heaven, the updated noxious weed bylaw also includes the Russian Olive and Siberian Elm.

Maja adds this is not something that will happen overnight, in speaking of the removal of these trees.

"This isn't something we are going to solve in six months. It's going to take a concerted effort, a lot of education and a lot of working with the public," he says.

"It's going to take a few years."

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