Report: Invasive pests a problem for forests

A new report warns the country's forests could look dramatically different in the future if nothing is done to aggressively address the growing threat of invasive species.

Bugs like the Emerald Ash Borer and the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid are already causing trouble in East Tennessee and other regions across the United States.

The report looks at how non-native pests like the aforementioned have spread over the last 20 years.

Read the Report:: Fading Forests III: American Forests, What Choice Will We Make?

UT Forest Genetics Professor Dr. Scott Schlarbaum co-authored the report.

He said one of his main concerns is that invasive species could harm native organisms and ultimately affect the country's ecosystems and their ability to deal with new threats.

More Information: USDA Alien Pest Explorer

"We're going to look out there, we'll see a green landscape, but that landscape's going to be different," he said. "Instead of the diversity that we're used to, that we all grew up with and the values that come from that diversity, we're going to see a completely different forest out there. Different in terms of species, different in terms of species composition."

Schlarbaum worked on the report with an environmental organization named the Nature Conservancy.

Researchers found international trade to be a big contributor to the spread of non-native pests.

The report also said more federal funding needs to be allocated to fight invasive species, because the current funding does not do enough to address the growing threat.

"If you don't respond to them, they'll just get worse and worse," Schlarbaum said.


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