by Madelon Wise
What’s the big deal about the emerald ash borer? According to the Colorado Tree Coalition, the emerald ash borer (EAB) has killed millions of ash trees since its discovery in 2002 and the number of dead ash is increasing rapidly. Ash species are abundant in planted and natural areas of urban forests, representing 10–40% of the canopy cover in many communities. Ash trees provide substantial economic and ecosystem benefits to taxpayers, ranging from increased property value, to storm water mitigation, to decreased energy demands.
Our fellow researchers at the USDA Northern Research Station say that widespread ash mortality in urban forests and residential landscapes is having devastating economic and environmental impacts. EAB is predicted to cause an unprecedented $10-20 billion in losses to urban forests over the next 10 years.