Do you use firewood? You can help stop the spread of forest pests
Image: The Emerald Ash Borer, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
What is a forest pest?
Forest pests are insects and diseases that damage the ecosystems that they are occupying by threatening forest health, biodiversity, human health, and the economy. They have been introduced to the US largely as a result of global trade; these species often arrive on ships or within shipments coming from other continents.
What’s at stake?
Not only do these pests cause damage in the billions of dollars (absorbed mostly by homeowners and municipalities), but they can decimate entire species of trees in just decades or less. The emerald ash borer (EAB) for example, was first discovered in New York in 2009, and is now present in 30 counties in the state. It’s very possible that the EAB could win the fight against the ash species, wiping out large percentages of this tree family in North America.
What can we do?
There is action that we can take to slow the spread of forest pests like the emerald ash borer, asian long-horned beetle and many others:
- When purchasing firewood from a store, always look to see that it was been “pre-heated.” Otherwise, you could unknowingly be buying infested wood.
- Don’t transport firewood, ever. You could be introducing an infestation to an otherwise uninfected ecosystem. This is particularly relevant to campers; most of Westchester is now in a quarantine zone, which means the rules are even stricter than they were just a year ago!
- If you see something, say something! If a previously healthy tree is suddenly dying, you may have an infestation. You can contact the DEC’s forest pest hotline at 1-866-640-0652