Forestry professionals from several natural resource agencies and organizations met on Friday in Montgomery to address the large number of trees dying in Alabama’s forests and what can be done about it. Because the potential exists for the situation to worsen in the coming months, the group met to develop a strategy for control measures and explore available resources. While exact economic impacts of this state-wide tree mortality to landowners are unknown at this time, the losses may be significant.
Both hardwood and pine trees of various ages and sizes are dying as a direct result of the recent drought. Many more pines are being killed due to bark beetle infestations, also a complication associated with the drought of last fall. According to officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), eight counties have been surveyed over the past couple months revealing 187 insect spots with approximately 14,262 infested trees, a significant increase over previous years. Ground inspection by AFC foresters indicates that the trees are dying from a range of pests including Ips engraver beetle and southern pine beetle. Drought-stressed trees can be weakened, causing them to be more susceptible to damage from insects and diseases.
The Alabama Forestry Commission will continue to conduct aerial and ground detection surveys to assess beetle activity in all counties. Landowners are advised to monitor their property for signs of damage and contact their local AFC office or a registered forester for management recommendations before taking any action. To learn more about bark beetles or locate AFC county offices, visit the agency’s website at www.forestry.alabama.gov.
This joint meeting was hosted by the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Alabama Forestry Association. Attendees included representatives from Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Auburn University School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, the USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, ALFA, and forest industry.