RFF on the Issues

RFF on the Issues: Invasive species impacts: timing matters

Jan 28, 2016 | Shannon Wulf Tregar

Tree infestations of the emerald ash borer are happening at “an alarming rate” in DC-area parks. Local officials note that although these beetles, which are now in every county in Maryland, were once a “slow-moving locomotive,” the infestation is now a “speeding bullet.”

The emerald ash borer infestation, which began around 1990, could end up costing the eastern United States around $15 billion in Ash removal and replacement, according to recent research by RFF’s Rebecca Epanchin-Niell and Andrew Liebhold of the US Forest Service. They write: “The emerald ash borer invasion is expected to . . . completely [saturate] forests by about 2050—only five decades after its introduction.” Understanding these temporal factors, such as a short lag time between the arrival of an invader and the initiation of damages, is “critical to determining the long-term invasion costs and evaluating the benefits of quarantine and prevention policies.” In related work, Epanchin-Neill describes a toolkit for responding to invasions, noting that “a portfolio of approaches is required.”


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