Trees and forests are integral to our American way of life. They give us shade and shelter, refuge and refreshment, clean air and water. From tree-lined neighborhood streets, to sun-dappled urban parks, to national parks blanketed in green, we count on them to be there for the next generation.
But today, many of America’s trees and forests are being destroyed by invasive insects and diseases. These invaders are removing entire species of trees from our forests and neighborhoods, threatening our air, water and way of life. With global trade, non-native organisms hitchhike their way into North America aboard wood packaging or nursery plants. The emerald ash borer has laid bare suburban streets in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and now threatens Illinois and Wisconsin; a pathogen known as sudden oak death has killed more than 1 million trees in California. Such invaders will cost the United States potentially billions of dollars in prevention and eradication.
In the United States we are working to restore America’s forests through on-the-ground partnerships that benefit people, water, and wildlife. Existing laws can stop invading pests and diseases – but only if those laws are enforced. The Nature Conservancy has joined with other like-minded organizations to urge Congress to increase funding to combat destructive insects and diseases. Without adequate funding, the primary agency charged with protecting U.S. forests and agricultural plants can’t fulfill its mandate. The Conservancy has also made recommendations about how to improve existing regulations. As a nation, we must also create incentives to encourage industry to take action as well.
September 10, 2013