B.C. government commits $150 million to forest rehab

By Nelson Bennett
The B.C. government announced $150 million in spending Friday February 17 to “treat” forests to reduce wildfire hazards, rehabilitate forests damaged by fire and disease and increase B.C.’s carbon sink.

While that treatment will include tree planting, it will also include tree cutting.

The money will go to the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., which was created last year with $85 million.

To date, $5.6 million has been awarded to various projects, most of them aimed at addressing forest fire hazards and cleaning up the still-standing dead wood left from the Mountain pine beetle infestation.

The funding announced Friday is in addition to the $85 million in funding provided last year. The new funding is to be added in the 2016-2017 provincial budget, which comes down on February 21.

The funds will be managed by the Forest Enhancement Society. Some of the funding will go towards tree-planting, which Premier Christy Clark described as a significant climate change initiative, since young forests absorb considerably more carbon dioxide than mature forests.

Source: B.C. government commits $150 million to forest rehab | Forestry & Fisheries | Business in Vancouver, 2017-02-17

Invasive bugs found in fallen trees years after storm

By Holly Ramer, Associated Press
They may be down but they’re not out: Damaging insects can emerge from fallen trees and logs for several years after a major storm, according to a U.S. Forest Service study that reinforces long-standing warnings against moving firewood from place to place.

Timber that gets blown down, broken or damaged by wind is often cut and used as firewood, which in turn can enable the spread of invasive, destructive insects that drain the life out of forests from New England to the West Coast.

Such pests are projected to put 63 percent of the country’s forest at risk through 2027 and carry a cost of several billion dollars annually in dead tree removal, declining property values and timber industry losses, according to the peer-reviewed study last year in Ecological Applications.

Researchers were surprised to find that wood harvested even three years after the tornado produced a significant number of insects.

Source: Study: Invasive bugs found in fallen trees years after storm | The Spokesman-Review, 2017-02-12

Study documents tree species’ decline due to climate warming

by Dan Joling, Associated Press
A type of tree that thrives in soggy soil from Alaska to Northern California and is valued for its commercial and cultural uses could become a noticeable casualty of climate warming over the next 50 years, an independent study has concluded.

Yellow cedar, named for its distinctive yellow wood, already is under consideration for federal listing as a threatened or endangered species.

The study published in the journal Global Change Biology found death due to root freeze on 7 percent of the tree’s range, including areas where it’s most prolific. It cited snow-cover loss that led to colder soil.

Additional mortality is likely as the climate warms, researchers said.

Source: Study documents tree species’ decline due to climate warming | KOMO, 2017-01-06

To Understand Tree Health, Just Listen

By Erik Lief
In evaluating the health of living things – whether they be humans, plants or animals – when advanced age or decay sets in we can observe the physical changes as they happen with our own eyes.

The same, however, cannot be said when studying trees. That’s because when they’re stricken by old age or disease, they rot, invisibly, from the inside out. And not knowing their true health misleads foresters and scientists around the globe who track climatic shifts and other natural occurrences.

As a result, foresters, arborists and researchers obtain their tree health data employing an alternative method: sound waves. However, while that method – called sonic tomography – is fascinating and revealing, it has its limitations since previously it could only be deployed on trees with cylindrical trunks.

But a new study, just published in Applications in Plant Sciences, claims to have taken sonic tomography to the next level, where now irregular-shaped trunks, which are predominately found in tropical climates, can be analyzed as well. And according to the research team headed by Greg Gilbert, lead author of the study and Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, evaluating tree decay “is of special concern in the tropics because tropical forests are estimated to harbor 96% of the world’s tree diversity and about 25% of terrestrial carbon, compared to the roughly 10% of carbon held in temperate forests.”

Source: To Understand Tree Health, Just Listen | American Council on Science and Health, 2017-01-06

Ash dieback: Insect threat to fungus-resistant trees

Release by University of Exeter
Ash trees which can resist the killer dieback fungus may be more vulnerable to attacks by insects, according to new research.

Scientists from the universities of Exeter and Warwick examined trees which are resistant to ash dieback and – unexpectedly – found they had very low levels of chemicals which defend against insects.

With efforts under way to protect ash trees from dieback, the scientists warn that selecting trees for fungal resistance could put them at risk from insects.

Aside from ash dieback, the other major threat to European ash trees is the Emerald Ash Borer beetle, which has already devastated vast tracts of ash in the USA and is currently spreading westwards across Europe.

Source: Ash dieback: Insect threat to fungus-resistant trees | EurekAlert! Science News

Pine Beetle Strategy In Banff National Park Can Do More Harm Than Good

By NPT Staff
One strategy to control the spread of mountain pine beetles in Banff National Park sometimes does the opposite, a study by a University of British Columbia researcher shows.

While pheromone baiting followed by tree removal — purposefully attracting the pests to a tree, which is then cut down in winter when the larvae are trapped inside — can be successful where there is a dense population of beetles, the strategy can increase the number of beetles in some areas of the Canadian Rockies, according to mathematical modeling led by Rebecca Tyson, an associate professor of mathematics at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

“What our study found is that where the beetle population is low, the pheromone is actually attracting more beetles and thus helping the beetle population increase,” said Ms. Tyson, whose research was recently published in ScienceDirect.

Source: Pine Beetle Strategy In Banff National Park Can Do More Harm Than Good – National Parks Traveler

Genomic tools to combat the spread of the invasive Asian longhorned beetle

The Asian longhorned beetle, also known as the starry sky beetle, is native to eastern Asia but has successfully invaded North America and Europe where it infests maple, birch, willow, elm, and poplar trees. An international team of scientists report on the sequencing, annotation, and comparative exploration of this beetle’s genome in an effort to develop novel tools to combat its spread and better understand the biology of invasive wood-boring pests.

Source: Genomic tools to combat the spread of the invasive Asian longhorned beetle — ScienceDaily

Variable tree growth after fire protects forests from future bark beetle outbreaks

Do severe wildfires make forests in the western United States more susceptible to future bark beetle outbreaks?

The answer, in a study published Monday (Nov. 7, 2016) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is no. By leading to variability in the density and size of trees that grow during recovery, large fires reduce the future vulnerability of forests to bark beetle attacks and broad-scale outbreaks.
“Fire creates a very heterogeneous landscape,” says study co-author Kenneth Raffa, professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Beetles can only reproduce in an individual tree once, so they take advantage of this patch of trees and that patch of trees as they become available, but when the number and size of trees vary a lot, it’s hard for a large outbreak to develop.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-variable-tree-growth-forests-future.html#jCp

Source: Variable tree growth after fire protects forests from future bark beetle outbreaks

How bark beetles use mob mentality to kill millions of California trees

There are killing machines on the loose in California and the entire Western region.

They’re found in packs and look for the weak but they’re not the scary predator you’d imagine. In fact, they’re about the size of a rice grain.

They’re called bark beetles.

A June 2016 Cal Fire report stated the ongoing drought in combination with the tiny insects are responsible for killing about 66 million trees in California since 2010. That’s up from 29 million trees in 2015 and 3.3 million in 2014, according to the report.

Source: How bark beetles use mob mentality to kill millions of California trees | ABC10.com

Recent study shows that invasive insects cause billions of dollars in damage each year

Invasive insects cause at least $77 billion in damage every year, according to a study released Tuesday that says this figure is “grossly underestimated” because it covers only a fraction of the globe.

Climate change is on track to boost the area affected by nearly 20 percent before mid-century, the authors reported in the journal Nature Communications.

Canvassing more than 700 recent scientific studies, researchers looked at the impact of non-native species on goods and services, healthcare and agricultural output.

Most of these studies applied to North America and Europe, which means the devastation wrought by crop-chomping and disease-carrying bugs from afar has not been adequately measured, the authors said.

The most destructive of the insects canvassed was the Formosan subterranean termite, which lives in huge colonies and feasts on wooden structures and living trees.

Source: Recent study shows that invasive insects cause billions of dollars in damage each year | Public Radio International