Losing your trees is bad for your health

There is a new study just released that shows there is a link between losing a lot of trees in your neighborhood and declining health of the residents in that area. It is a fascinating read, and it underscores the critical importance of not bringing in firewood from far away (which can start an infestation that then decimates the trees) and also reporting any odd pests or damage quickly, so that you might lose one tree instead of all of them.


One thing I think gets a little lost in some of the other reporting of this article is that the emerald ash borer really has nearly nothing to do with the big picture. The scientists used neighborhoods that had been infested with EAB not because there is something particularly dangerous or bad about EAB, but because it is a pest that kills a lot of trees in many places. This same study could have easily been done with neighborhoods affected by Dutch Elm Disease in the 1930's and 1940's, for instance (had the technology and information been there for the research, of course). Likewise, it is important to remember that control methods for EAB, ALB, and other insects and diseases remove trees from neighborhoods that are going to lose all their trees no matter what. It isn't like ignoring the pests and dead and dying trees results in less damage. In fact, the most direct result of not controlling pests is the loss of more trees over the long run.





Press Release: Trees, Pests and People on NETA ACCESS feed

NEWS RELEASE — For Immediate Release


The documentary Trees, Pests & People raises awareness of destructive tree-killing invasive pests

Arlington, VA—January 10, 2013—The Nature Conservancy’s new  documentary, Trees, Pests & People, will be offered as a National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) ACCESS feed for all 96 public broadcasting licensees in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands on January 14th at 11am Eastern Standard Time. In this thirty minute documentary, the viewer meets concerned citizens and scientists from all around the country as they talk about their stake in tree health— with focus on what members of the public can do to help protect our forest resources.

“Having Trees, Pests & People on the NETA ACCESS feed will allow this important film to reach PBS viewers nationwide,” said Sarah Volkman, Communications Lead for The Nature Conservancy’s Forest Health Program. “We are very pleased to have our newest documentary included in the 2013 programming.”

From rural family businesses to urban residents, every person in North America is impacted directly or indirectly by invasive forest pests. Trees, Pests & People tells the story of how three different pests are affecting everyday lives in three separate regions of the country. In Missouri, the black walnut tree farms are threatened by the distant spread of thousand cankers disease, while in Florida the avocado growers are trying to slow the effects of newly arrived laurel wilt disease. In Baltimore, Maryland, the emerald ash borer is killing street trees while the city actively works to fight the problem – all the while realizing that the emerald ash borer has already killed millions of ash trees in 18 states.

Created in partnership with The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases and the USDA APHIS, Trees, Pests & People illustrates the wide ranging effects that these threats have on our cities, small businesses, and natural landscapes. The film also provides tips on how to recognize and report these threats, showing how actions taken by everyday people can help prevent or minimize the loss of trees. Trees, Pests & People is a story of how America’s scientists, farmers, and city dwellers are all working together to keep trees healthy for decades to come.

“Trees and forests are an essential part of our lives, and they provide shade and shelter, jobs and products, and clean air and water. From tree-lined neighborhood streets to national parks, we count on trees to provide benefits today and for generations to come,” says Bill Toomey, Director of Forest Health Protection for The Nature Conservancy. “That’s why it’s critical for everyone to be aware of what they can do to prevent the spread of destructive tree pests.”

A recent study by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at University of California, Santa Barbara estimated that local governments are spending $2 billion and homeowners $2.5 billion a year for tree removal and replacement, treatment of trees, and lost property value due to introduced non-native forest insects and diseases.

Over the last hundred years, introduced species of invasive insects and diseases have killed tens of millions of trees in forests, cities, and towns across the country. In addition to the emerald ash borer, thousand cankers disease, and laurel wilt featured in the movie Trees, Pests & People,  there are many other tree-killing pests including Dutch elm disease, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex woodwasp,  hemlock woolly adelgid, sudden oak death, and others.

Trees, Pests & People highlights how government, citizens, and corporations can close the pathways by which these tree-killing insects and diseases reach America and spread to new areas by working together. These actions can protect our wild and urban forests for the benefit of future generations.


To learn more about Trees, Pests & People, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j_VSeIykWY&


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us on the Web at www.nature.org.


The other frequently asked questions

We have a list of Frequently Asked Questions that addresses the perennial “how far is too far?” and a few other questions. But what about the other things people ask? Let’s try to read your mind…

Why didn’t I hear about this 20 years ago? Seriously, is this a new problem, or what?

You can easily argue that accidentally moving pests on contaminated firewood has been a problem pretty much since the invention of the automobile. The first problematic invasive forest pests on record arrived in North America in the late 1800’s, and some of them (like spongy moth) move easily on firewood. However, the issue has only gained national traction since scientists and land managers reached a good understanding of the huge role that firewood has played in the spread of emerald ash borer (EAB). EAB was discovered in the USA in 2002, so in that regard the problem is indeed new to the public eye.

Who runs this website?

The Nature Conservancy is the manager of the international Don’t Move Firewood campaign, and operates this website on a day-to-day basis. We also have a lot of partner organizations that help us craft our overall strategies and messages on the website from time to time.

How is this all funded?

Don’t Move Firewood has a wide variety of funding groups, with the current largest being funds from USDA-APHIS. We are proud to list all our funding sources here.

I see that most of your blogs are written by L. Greenwood. Is that the same L. Greenwood as this?

Nope. Totally different L. Greenwood.

New house, new firewood

Excellent question for our advice column, Dear Don't Move Firewood…


Dear Don't Move Firewood,

Maybe I've missed it on your site but I don't see any information on where to find firewood locally. We just bought a vacation home on Whidbey Island but so far I am not aware of a reputable firewood seller. Any information you have would be appreciated.


Thoughtful Burner


Dear Thoughtful,

You didn't miss it- we actually don't have information on exactly where to find local firewood on our site. It'd be nearly impossible to keep that sort of database up to date, and it'd be completely impossible to verify each vendor. Sorry!


Instead, I will offer some advice. You have two options; commercially kiln-dried firewood, or bulk regular firewood. If you want kiln-dried wood (which given that your new house is in one of the rainiest parts of the country might be a good idea), then you can go to most large retailers and look around for a stamp on the package that says something like Heat Treated or Kiln Dried. Of course, this wood is more expensive than bulk regular firewood, so if you are planning to use wood fuel to exclusively heat your house, you need another option.


Untreated firewood straight from the forest or woodpile is lowest risk if it comes from a nearby source (ideally, under 10 miles). So a great way to find firewood is to ask around your neighborhood for where they buy wood- in this case, you'd want to find a seller of wood that cuts and distributes it all within Whidbey Island. Looking at a map of your area, another option might be wood collected with permit on the West slope of Mt Baker National Forest. I don't think farther than that is a very good idea.


Good luck!


Happy New Year!

Are you celebrating the start of 2013 this weekend by doing some "out with the old, in with the new" kinda house cleaning, decoration disposal, and more? If so, please remember to read our tips (from a blog post last year) on how to get rid of old christmas trees and other tree decorations.


Alternatively, if you are planning on taking this first weekend of 2013 to go skiing, check out our second ski video, Ski Bro Talk Trees by Glen Plake!