|Preventing Forest Pests and Pathogens|
The Institute’s Preventing Forest Pests and Pathogens Project is located within the Trade and the Environment/Invasive Species program. The project aims to advance clean trade in the Northeast-Midwest region and beyond by reducing the introduction and spread of non-native forest pests and diseases. Its mission is to make federal policy and programs related to trade and other vectors of the introduction and spread of forest pests and diseases as effective and responsive to the specific needs of the Northeast-Midwest region as possible. In particular, the Institute is part of the Steering Committee for the Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases. The Dialogue cultivates and catalyzes collaborative action among a diverse group of leaders in industry, universities, nonprofit groups, and state and municipal governments to abate the threat of forest pests and diseases.
The Institute is currently part of the Steering Committee of the Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases. The Dialogue cultivates and catalyzes collaborative action among a diverse group of leaders in industry, universities, nonprofit groups, and state and municipal governments to abate the threat of forest pests and diseases. To date, there have been two national meetings resulting in the development of an action agenda. Actions under development include market-based strategies to encourage best management practices, communications and marketing approaches to raise public awareness, and legislative strategies to improve public policy.
Forests in the Great Lakes region cover more than 103 million acres. Forest products and related industries employ more than 503,000 people, and have an annual payroll exceeding $18.5 billion. Forests sustain biological diversity, provide clean air and water, and are part of the core foundation of our national heritage. However, non-native forest pests and pathogens, introduced to the Northeast-Midwest region as a byproduct of trade and transportation, have the potential to greatly impact our region’s forests. The consequences of these introductions include direct mortality of trees and increased vulnerability of our forests to other stresses. Over time, these changes can transform the forest’s structure and species composition, and compromise its ability to persist. Many pests and pathogens have already become established in the Great Lakes region to devastating effect. For example, the Asian Longhorned Beetle, native to China, has few natural enemies and attacks hardwood trees such as maple, elm, horse chestnut, ash, birch, poplar, and willow in many of the Northeast-Midwest region’s metropolitan areas, including Chicago and New York. The total value of trees at risk in these two cities alone is more than $3 billion. The chestnut blight, introduced more than 100 years ago, dominates the landscape in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan; the death of hemlocks due to hemlock woolly adelgid has caused considerable changes in the characteristics of nearby streams in the Appalachian Mountains; and the emerald ash borer now occupies large areas in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Ontario, and has killed more than 20 million ash trees.
The problem is accelerating because we have not adapted our policies to reflect economic changes, particularly rising volumes and speed of trade. Because it’s a policy problem, and not purely a biology problem, we can solve it.
With critical support by the Institute and the Great Lakes Task Forces of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional and Senate Coalitions, Congress enacted the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, and the National Invasive Species Act of 1996 (NISA). The National Invasive Species Council, established by Executive Order 13112, is a good sounding board for ways to improve federal programs to better prevent forest pests and pathogens. The committees and subcommittees of Congress that oversee policies related to agriculture and land-based natural resources will be most active in enacting such policies.
Solutions will include new government policies, particularly a focus on blocking pathways of invasion and more effective response to newly discovered invaders. Private action from a diverse collaboration of stakeholders can help ensure the success of any policy changes and create a climate of shared determination to solve the problem.
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