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Forest lives are changing, with combined human/insect threats.

By JW. Dowey - 13 Nov 2017 10:10:1 GMT
 Forest lives are changing, with combined human/insect threats.

Enter into your favourite woodland, if the ash, the pine, the spruce or those magnificent tropical dipterocarps such as meranti (the wood) are still surviving there. But take heed of the danger of losing all of these essential forests, not only by anthropogenic means, but also through heated-up insect life cycles!Forest image; Credit: ©Elena Schweitzer(Shutterstock)

If there’s a forest near you, then human actions may not be the only factors affecting its future. Primary forest is almost gone, as far as most regions are concerned, with logging, palm oil plantations, and even open-cast mining and roads destroying the few remaining old trees in any area. Native beetles, never mind alien moth, bug and wasp species, are very active on the forest destruction front in some areas.

North America presents a particularly fraught area for certain native beetles such as the bark beetle genus, Dendroctonus. These guys have been eliminating great forests from Alaska to Mexico and beyond for many years. Some species specialise in bringing down spruce forests while up to 20 pine tree species are more to the taste of the southern pine beetle, which has caused $900 million worth of damage of a 30 year period. One great factor involved is the ubiquitous effect of global warming. Insect metabolism is reliant on external temperature, so their activity is growing with every degree rise in air temperature.

Matthew P. Ayres and Maria J. Lombardero are researchers based on Dartmouth College, Canada and the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Their paper last week revealed 8 strategies for forest managers (and even timber importers) to attempt the thankless task of restricting the loss of these forests. The summary of their paper and a pic of Dendroctonus frontalis is available in How to manage forest pests in the Anthropocene.

Around the world, from Asian, African or South American rainforest, the tactics are generally similar. The Congo’s swamps and forest are very important for carbon retention and amazing wildlife, while the American Atlantic and Amazon rainforests are also shaming us as they completely disappear. Also in line are those beautiful ancient forests that contain more exciting animals and plants in Asia.

With changing conditions annually, practical scientific theory such as the insect metabolism change are first to be considered. It means that even their predators have less time to eat them up! Biosecurity at ports is all-important and monitoring of all pests within the forest is vital too.

Some responses to potential pests have also been disastrous, which is where colleges and universities need to spread these experiences. As everywhere the word, Outcomes becomes a keyword to prevent repeats these mistaken remedies.

Professors Lombardero and Ayres have stated that improved understanding among the forest and other personnel involved, such as various socio-economic groups is a much-needed adaptation. As the temperature rises, the number of successful interventions will hopefully rise too.