Pests

Pests

Problem Overview

Exotic pests have had a dramatic impact on North America since European colonization. Records of exotic forest pests appear by the early 1800’s.  In the first federal forestry document (Report Upon Forestry, Volume 1,1878) Franklin B. Hough noted the decline of American chestnut in North Carolina’s Catawba River Valley. This was not the chestnut blight, but rather a root rot disease caused by the soil-borne Phytophthora cinnamomi Rands, which was imported into eastern Georgia from Europe. This disease eventually killed all lowland American chestnuts [Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.] and Allegheny chinkapins [C. pumila Mill.] and remains a problem in forested ecosystems and forest tree nurseries.

Today, exotic pests are perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity of North American forest ecosystems. Many dominant tree species have been attacked by exotic pests that are capable of extirpating whole populations and can potentially cause extinction. This situation will only worsen, as international trade is exponentially increasing.  The UT-TIP has addressed exotic forest pests and associated issues since its inception in 1959. Professor Thor worked extensively with American chestnuts to develop natural resistance. In recent years, Professor Schlarbaum, in cooperation with a number of agencies and organizations, has addressed a variety of exotic forest pest problems. Additionally, he has coauthored Fading Forests: North American Trees and the Threat of Exotic Pests(1994 - published by the Natural Resources Defense Council) and Fading Forests II: Trading Away North America’s Natural Heritage(2002 - published by the Healing Stones Foundation) with Dr. Faith Thompson Campbell of The Nature Conservancy.