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Fight That Pest! Nature Conservancy Launches Healthy Tree Program in Tennessee

New Program Offers Communities Help in Saving Urban Trees


Nashville, TN | August 28, 2013

Tennessee is facing a looming threat from foreign invaders. In fact, some of these invaders have crossed our borders already and are causing costly damage to our communities.

The invaders are foreign pests that cost our state millions of dollars in lost trees. Destructive insects and other pests that have been accidentally introduced from abroad—such as hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moth and the emerald ash borer—attack and kill native trees that have no natural defenses against these serious new threats.

“If you look at a map of the United States, the Appalachian Mountains jump out as a hotspot for tree pest infestations,” says Katherine Medlock, East Tennessee program director for The Nature Conservancy. “Many of these pests are moving down the Appalachians, and Tennessee is on the front lines of battle against them to save our city trees and our forests.”

To arm communities across Tennessee against this threat, The Nature Conservancy has launched a new program called Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee in partnership with the Tennessee Division of Forestry. The program engages Tennessee communities in early pest detection, tree health monitoring, and tree planting and stewardship. Most importantly, the program equips communities with the training and tools to spot and report outbreaks of pests before they get out of hand.

Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee is developing an early tree-pest detection network of tree professionals, such as arborists, landscapers, city planners, master gardeners, utility companies and concerned citizens to identify pest outbreaks early on, giving Tennessee’s communities a fighting chance against these destructive pests.

“Early detection and rapid response to tree pests works well,” says Katherine Medlock. “It’s like a grease fire in a pan on a stove—if you stop it quickly, there’s no big problem. If you don’t, you can lose your house. It’s similar with these pest outbreaks. In Tennessee, our forest professionals have had great success in snuffing out localized infestations of gypsy moth and thousand canker disease before they could spread.”

The Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee program is now engaging tree professionals and garden groups in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and other major Tennessee cities. A hotline number and email address have been set up to report pest infestations and outbreaks: (615) 837-5520 and Protect.TNForests@tn.gov. The program also has a smart-phone app that can be used in identifying specific tree pests. It can be downloaded at apps.bugwood.org/healthytrees.

Additional partner organizations in the program include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the University of Tennessee and the City of Chattanooga.

To learn more, visit healthytreeshealthycities.org/cities/Tennessee.

Anyone interested in arranging for a presentation or training about tree pest detection can contact Katherine Medlock, East Tennessee Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, at kmedock@tnc.org or (865) 546-5998.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org

Contact information

Paul Kingsbury
Communications Manager
2021 21st Avenue South
Suite C-400
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 383-9909
(615) 383-9717
pkingsbury@tnc.org

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