Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Invasive species - dead ash tree marketing

A bug has come to North America as a advantageous wayfarer riding with human commerce. It is an insect which could not have arrived with out the help of human activity. And it is an invasive species killing trade trees, and coincidently, the raw material which is used to make baseball bats. A significant number of organizations - organizations made up of individuals, who recognize that the destruction of a major species of a forest is bad for the pocket (economy) in the short term, and bad for health (ecosystem services) in the long run. (see: Saturday, February 28, 2009; Invasive Species and Ecosystem Service Loss )

picture above right: www.entm.purdue.edu/EAB/images/Adult_EAB_Capp...
Image may be subject to copyright.

picture above: cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/images/9872
Image may be subject to copyright.

Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia. Emerald ash borer is also established in Windsor, Ontario, was found in Ohio in 2003, northern Indiana in 2004, northern Illinois and Maryland in 2006, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2007, and Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia in summer 2008. Since its discovery, EAB has:

· Killed tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with tens of millions more lost in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ontario, and Quebec.
· Caused regulatory agencies and the USDA to enforce quarantines (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Quebec, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where EAB occurs.
· Cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries tens of millions of dollars.

. A group of organizations and individuals with diverse interests, The Continental Dialogue, has come together to abate the threat to North American forests from non-native insects and diseases. The result of the collaboration is the creation of the public information website, ‘Don’t Move Firewood’. The objective of ‘Don’t Move Firewood’ is to “Communicate and Market Key Ideas about Protecting Forests.” The following organizations formally support the website and play an on-going role in overseeing the content:

Alliance for Community Trees
American Forest Foundation
American Nursery & Landscape Association
National Association of State Foresters
Partnership for Saving Threatened Forests
Purdue University, Department of Entomology
Society of American Florists
Society of American Foresters
The Nature Conservancy
US Forest Service, Northeastern Area

Now we see on the web, a marketing idea to sell bumper stickers which say “Go ahead, Move firewood: The bugs will get there eventually anyway.” My first reaction is that this is just an attempt to make a little money at no cost because ecosystem services are, of course, “free” according to our current mind set. What harm a few more dead trees? Why should this business think about the consequences to long term sustainability when we as a society have embedded into our culture the idea and expectation that natural resources are there for the taking and will always be there?

But on closer thinking, it is not the silliness of those who parasitically live off ignorance that concerns me, for they have shown a spark of creativity no matter how misguided. It is the message inside the message, the one that says abandoned all hope there is nothing we can do anyway. This is the terrible and dangerous inference which quietly destroys the public will to action. It is the thinking that said we could not cure polio or land a man on the moon. It is the message of despair that says we can not lift the shroud of hunger from the planet or find shelter for the homeless. It is a cry in the dark of hopelessness, and it is wrong. Every farmer knows that weeds and insects will come for tomorrow’s meal, and yet he tends the field; every doctor sees his patients without consideration of the improbable and impossible knowing that there will be a cure tomorrow; every naturalist struggles against not only the forces of nature, but against the self-interests of today.

The emerald ash borer would not have come without us, and we must now learn to control it, not to ignore it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 EAB in CPA from the invasive species weblog
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced today that the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) was discovered in central Pennsylvania. Until now, the EAB had been confined to five counties on the western edge of the state. The beetle's discovery in Mifflin County means a new quarantine zone for Pennsylvania. No word yet on how or when the beetle was found.