TREES UNDER ATTACK
Cary Institute Senior Scientist Gary Lovett is racing
against time to save America’s trees.
Story ML Ball
Photo: Courtesy of Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Day by day, hour by hour, an insidious force is destroying our woods, forests, parks and neighborhoods. If nothing is done—and fast—to curb the invader, entire species of American trees will disappear. Is this the overwrought plot of a B-grade horror movie? Hardly.
The problem is very real, and very dire. A consequence of global trade, tens of thousands of highly destructive insects are brought into this country every year. Most arrive either inside wooden shipping pallets or attached to plants bound for the nursery trade. Once here, these pests soon get to work, boring into, feeding on and eventually killing our trees, costing Americans billions of dollars every year in dead-tree removal and decreased property values, not to mention the loss of beautiful green spaces in parks, yards and neighborhoods. (As just one example, the total costs to taxpayers caused by the emerald ash borer beetle could reach $12.7 billion by 2020.)
Yet, astonishingly, this foreign onslaught is preventable. All it would take is for international shippers, port-inspection authorities, the World Trade Organization, our Congress and the American public to all get on the same page, recognize it as a true global emergency and do something about it.