New Documentary From The Nature Conservancy Aims to Protect Trees and Forests Nationwide

Trees, Pests and People raises awareness of destructive tree-killing invasive pests

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This film illustrates how three different pests are affecting everyday lives in three separate regions of the country.


Arlington, Virginia | October 01, 2012

Across the nation, invasive insects and diseases threaten to destroy shade-lined streets, forest industries, and agriculture. In a new documentary, Trees, Pests & People, The Nature Conservancy’s Forest Health Protection Program interviews concerned citizens and scientists about their stake in tree health across North America—focusing on what members of the public can do to help protect our forest resources.  

From rural family businesses to urban residents, every person in North America is impacted directly or indirectly by invasive forest pests. This film 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 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, the documentary 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 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 and 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.

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 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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Sarah Volkman
Communications and Program Coordinator
(215) 622-0557

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