Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee

Early pest detection is critical to stopping outbreaks of tree disease. And most outbreaks begin in cities.

Trees Are Essential to Our Lives
Trees capture rainfall and help control urban storm water runoff, provide shade, reduce excessive temperatures, and remove dust and pollutants from the air. Trees also provide a number of intangible benefits to people, such as year-round beauty, reduced stress and a greater sense of safety.

The Nature Conservancy’s Healthy Trees, Healthy Tennessee:

  • Trains volunteers in tree stewardship and tree health monitoring
  • Engages the public and tree care professionals in tree pest identification, tree health monitoring, and long term care of trees
  • Raises awareness about the importance of trees and what people can do to keep trees healthy through education and outreach

Protecting the Health of Our City Trees and Forests

Today many of North America’s trees are being destroyed by non-native insects and diseases. These invaders are removing entire species of trees from our forests and neighborhoods, threatening our air, water, economies, and quality of life. Local governments spend $2 billion and homeowners $2.5 billion annually for tree removal, replacement, treatment, and lost property value.

Early detection is critical to stopping outbreaks before they become more complicated and expensive to control. Most outbreaks of invasive pests begin in cities, which mean people living in cities have an important opportunity to protect the health of the nation’s trees and forests.

Tennessee’s foresters have had great success in eradicating pests when they have been discovered early. “Every year we catch gypsy moths early and eradicate them before they become established in Tennessee,” says Heather Slayton of the Tennessee Division of Forestry. “Our most recent eradication was at Pattie Gap in Roane County where we found a small gypsy moth population three years ago. We aerial sprayed it the following year and ground sprayed it in 2012. We also installed a series of very intense ground traps each year to capture any stragglers. As of August of 2013, Roane County is now considered free of these pests. This method of monitoring, detecting, and eradicating within a year or two has been done successfully in Tennessee for the gypsy moth since the 1970s.”

Tennessee’s trees are vulnerable to several devastating tree pests and pathogens including: Asian Long-Horned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Thousand Canker Disease, Sudden Oak Death, and Gypsy Moth.

When camping, remember: Don't Move Firewood!  That means, don't transport firewood from your home to your campsite. You might accidentally transport tree pests into a forest.

Training and Resources
The Conservancy is developing information and tools to improve tree pest identification and reporting, tree stewardship and monitoring the health of city trees. Materials include:

Training Videos

If Trees Could Sing

Citizen Science tools and phone applications to aid in the identification and reporting of known tree pests and the monitoring of the health of existing urban forests:

Report a Pest
When you identify tree damage or notice an unusual tree pest, take a picture and note the location. Report your findings to officials in Tennessee by calling  (615) 837-5520 or emailing You can also report online at:

Get Involved
Become a Pest Detective. Be observant and look for unusual changes in your neighborhood trees. Trees usually show symptoms when they are under attack (branches dying, green leaves turning yellow or brown in spring and summer, insects, and holes in the bark). The earlier we catch a pest infestation, the easier it is to limit or even prevent the widespread damage caused by these pests.

Don’t Move Firewood. Most pests can only move small distances on their own, but people inadvertently move them great distances by moving firewood or other raw wood to new areas. So play it safe: buy it where you burn it, and please don’t move firewood.

There’s An App for That. There are apps that make it easy for you to identify, map and care for trees, as well as report tree pests to officials. A new phone application to identify tree pests and diseases that could affect Tennessee’s trees is now available for public use. Download the Southeast Early Detection Network app at iTunes or Google Play.

Report a Pest. When you identify tree damage or notice an unusual tree pest, take a picture and note the location. Report your findings to officials in Tennessee by calling (615) 837-5520 or emailing You can also report online at:

Plant and Nurture Young Trees. The first few years of a tree’s life are critical to the future of a healthy tree. Planting and taking care of newly planted trees can greatly improve their chance of a long and healthy life.

Tree Tending. Tree beds get trampled by people, dogs and trash; a well-maintained tree bed absorbs more water when it rains and maintains a healthy root system for the tree. Street trees are surrounded by roads and sidewalks, and during dry times extra water can make a big difference.

USDA APHIS State Plant Health:
Tennessee Department of Agriculture:
City of Chattanooga:
University of Tennessee Extension:
USFS Forest Health Protection:
Tennessee Division of Forestry:
Southern Chapter of the International Society for Arboriculture:
University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health:
University of Tennessee - Soil, Plant & Pest Center - Facebook page:
Jackalope Brewing Co. - Partner in Forest Awareness Campaign - Nashville OktoberForest 2016
Hutton & Smith Brewing Co. - Partner in Forest Awareness Campaign - Chattanooga OktoberForest 2016


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