Threats on our doorstep

Forest industries, a major component of many local economies, depend on just a handful of foundational tree species.  The disappearance of those trees due to invasive pathogens and insects would have catastrophic impacts on these industries, as well as the communities and people who depend on them.

Already, invasive pests (such as Chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease) have drastically changed eastern forests.  Increasing global movement and changing climate patterns suggest that the arrival of invasive species will only increase in the future. Right now, several threats are on the horizon, jeopardizing the future of key eastern trees and forest ecosystems.

Examples of emerging forest health threats

  • Thousand cankers disease (TCD) threatens one of the most highly valued timber species throughout the region, black walnut. Tiny beetles transmit a pathogenic fungus to walnut trees and the fungus grows in the tree, eventually killing it. Native to southwestern North America, TCD has spread rapidly and is already present in Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana.

  • Sudden oak death (SOD) threatens to kill off many of the oak species key to eastern forest ecosystems and economies. On the west coast, where the pathogen has established, it has killed millions of oaks and many experts believe it is only a matter of time before it reaches eastern hardwood forests.
  • Asian longhorned beetles (ALB) threatens a wide range of hardwood tree species. Tunneling by these large beetles, and their huge larvae, leads to tree death. ALB has been repeatedly introduced on packaging material from Asia and has resulted in federal quarantines of infected sites in Massachusetts, New York, and Ohio.