To help build consensus on key issues relating to management of the destructive emerald ash borer (EAB), Valent Professional Products recently hosted a unique summit meeting that promises to have a far-reaching impact on urban ash tree preservation and EAB education efforts.
Identifying the need for greater education on the subject, experts from a variety of backgrounds — including leading university researchers and extension specialists, tree and land care company representatives, non-governmental organizations and municipal arborists and foresters — discussed how to more effectively inform the public about EAB management and the benefits of conserving ash trees in urban forests. In so doing, they identified several key points for emphasis during future outreach efforts:
Insecticides can effectively protect healthy ash trees from EAB, and this often makes more sense than tree removal
Mature ash trees — which raise property values, ease energy costs and decrease storm water runoff — are more valuable than often appreciated
There are significant economic, environmental and public safety risks associated with the death and removal of ash trees
The Environmental Protection Agency has registered three different active ingredients for control of EAB
Preventive treatment of EAB is effective, economic and environmentally sound
Preventive insecticide treatments are often less expensive than tree removal and replacement
When used in accordance with the label, insecticides pose minimal risk to the public and environment —particularly in comparison to dead or dying trees
Treatment is most appropriate after EAB has been detected within a 15-mile radius
Treatments are most successful if they begin before trees show visible symptoms of canopy decline
If trees are showing signs of decline when treatments are implemented, they may need more than a year to show obvious recovery from EAB damage
Products for treatment should be chosen based on individual situations and needs
A “combination approach” to EAB management — which includes both the selective treatment and removal of trees — is the best strategy
“Ash is a major tree species in many Midwestern and Eastern cities, and EAB is wiping this tree species out,” said Dr. Joe Chamberlin, regional field development manager for Valent Professional Products. “Homeowners and municipal officials have a major decision to make when EAB arrives: They are either going to have to remove their trees or treat their trees.
“We wanted to bring together a group of key stakeholders and discuss the primary obstacles standing in the way of sensible EAB management and how to overcome those obstacles.”
Among the hurdles mentioned most often by the summiteers were:
Lack of knowledge about EAB, EAB infestations and an effective management approach
Misinformation and lack of awareness about treatment options
Lack of urgency in governmental bodies to act on issue
Budgetary concerns or lack of funding
Underappreciated value of trees
“A lot of people think there’s nothing that can be done to save these trees and that you have to cut them down, but that’s just not the case,” Chamberlin said. “We are working on a consensus document that will have a series of messages to be communicated to cities to help them manage this invasive pest more efficiently.”
Dr. Dan Herms, a professor of entomology at The Ohio State University and a leading EAB researcher, was one of those on hand for the summit. He said it is important to make sure that stakeholders are aware of all available options for managing EAB.
“We have a much better understanding of several different approaches and how those tools can be combined into an integrative approach to managing ash trees,” Dr. Herms said. “We know now we’re not faced with strictly having to cut down trees. There are other options available and they’re more cost-effective than people realize, especially when you start factoring in the value of trees and the benefits they provide.”
EAB is an invasive pest native to Asia that has been identified in at least 15 states and killed tens of millions of ash trees since it was first discovered here in 2002. It threatens to kill millions more trees as it spreads across the Midwestern and Eastern U.S.
While the summit attendees work to complete a consensus document based on their discussions during the initial summit, Valent Professional Products is planning a series of informational meetings during which the summit attendees will reinforce these points. These meetings will be held in February in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, at dates and locations to be determined.
“There really was consensus on a lot of these issues already,” Chamberlin said. “It was a matter of bringing all of these stakeholders together so they could hear it from each other.”
For more information, visit www.valentpro.com