Time for a two part installment series at Dear Don’t Move Firewood, our occasional advice column.
Dear Don’t Move Firewood,
I am concerned about this focus on firewood. Shouldn’t we be at least as concerned about wood packaging materials shipped from other countries? What about the giant lumber industry that hauls huge truckloads of wood around? Trucking huge numbers of Christmas trees out of state for sale is also a pretty big business in the Pacific Northwest each year. Has there been any serious examination of the potential for harm from these activities? … (to be continued)
Let’s break it down, because there is so much good stuff in here.
- Shouldn’t we be at least as concerned about wood packaging materials shipped from other countries?
- Yes! Of course! That’s one of the primary pathways for pests to enter the US, Canada, and Mexico. And that’s why Don’t Move Firewood’s parent group, the Continental Dialogue, does extensive work on the issue of proper treatment of wood packaging. But here’s the thing; that’s not an issue for large scale public engagement and education, which is what Don’t Move Firewood does. We have our speciality, our piece of the puzzle. Other people dedicate their effort to solid wood packaging standards.
- What about the giant lumber industry that hauls huge truckloads of wood around?
- Again, Yes! Of course pests can spread in this way. What is interesting is that by and large, natural forests are not the point of initial introduction for most pests. Instead, urban and near-urban areas are more likely. Lumber industry relies mostly on natural, somewhat distant from cities, stands of trees. So just as a risk potential, the likelyhood for spread is lower. Additionally, the timber industry has various levels of inspection, standards, and certifications depending on the product, company, etc. So while this isn’t a perfect system, there are aspects in place that further mitigate risk. Lastly, again, this isn’t an issue that everyday citizens can best spend their time engaging with. Don’t Move Firewood wants to help the average person do their part, and not ask them to do comparitively futile things for a single person to engage with (like confront the timber industry on their harvest practices).
- Has there been any serious examination of the potential for harm from (christmas tree farming) activities?
- Every year, here at Don’t Move Firewood we talk about christmas trees. Our message (which you can see here) is that you should either cut down your own local tree, or buy from a reputable dealer that is in compliance with State Department of Agriculture and/or USDA APHIS standards. Which is to say, buy from a well known and legal dealer, not a guy selling trees on the side of the highway. Lastly, dispose of your trees either in municipal composting, or in the trash (landfill) and never put them in your backyard brush pile. In the off chance that pests are in those discarded Xmas trees, you want them isolated from your backyard trees- not sitting underneath them all spring and summer.
For the rest of the questions, I will return tomorrow!