In today’s northeast forests, landowners seeking to maintain healthy forests have a range of invasive and interfering plants and pests to contend with. If untreated, these can increase in prevalence, spread to new areas, hinder the regeneration of native tree species and devalue timber and the property at large. An integrated approach to managing forest pests will help you to maintain quality wildlife habitat, productive timber stands and healthy land overall.
Using Integrated Pest Management, we aim to maintain destructive agents at tolerable levels through a combination of preventative and suppressive measures. This means that a forest management plan is often the best place to start as this allows an experienced professional to identify the desired species present on the property while also inspecting for forest health issues and assessing the risk of various current or potential pests.
As a NY Certified Pesticide Applicator (Category 2 – Forest) and Certified Forester, Tim Russell can help you maintain a healthy forest for the future.
Above: Evidence of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) on Eastern Hemlock.
A long list of invasive plants, once established in the northeast for agriculture, aesthetics, and even for wildlife, have become established in new areas and grown in abundance, displacing native plants and preventing their reestablishment.
Some of these include Japanese barberry, shrub honeysuckle, multiflora rose, autumn olive, common buckthorn, and many more.
A combination of preventative and suppressive measures are needed to prevent these plants from overtaking our native woodlands. Suppressive measures include mechanical removal and herbicide treatments, and the best strategy will depend on the species, their age, level of dominance, site, and land management objectives.
Both prevention and suppression requires proper identification and consideration of these factors. This makes a forest management plan the ideal starting place.
Above: An Invasive Japanese barberry shrub.
Many native hardwood forests have become dominated by American beech, a native species which has become unnaturally abundant. This is largely due to beech bark disease.
This disorder, best described as an insect-fungus disease complex, is also the result of a non-native insect invasion. The process begins with the arrival of the beech scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga) on American beech, which soon inserts its stylet (mouthpart) into the bark of the tree.
Following this, the tree becomes highly susceptible to infection by the beech canker fungus (Neonectria faginata), which is ubiquitous in the environment. This causes the development of diffuse cankers around the bole of the tree, which cause damage to its vascular cambium until the tree becomes girdled.
It is the natural response of the tree to react to this disturbance by sprouting “root suckers,” shoots which can emerge from any portion of its root system. As the parent tree dies off, these will continue to grow but, as they are clonally produced, they have no greater resistance to the disease and will in turn become infected.
This process can continue through several iterations, and because of American beech’s tolerance to shade and low preferability to whitetail deer, it will develop into a thicket which dominates the forest understory. Active control including the use of herbicide is commonly required to maintain a diverse and productive stand of hardwoods, especially when it comes to regenerating the stand with young trees.
Above: A hardwood stand infected with beech bark disease has become dominated by American beech.
Forests with an understory dominated by fern cover are often picturesque, but lack diversity, provide little for wildlife and amount to biological deserts, threatening the sustainability of your forest. If unchecked, these can out-shade other understory plants and result in regeneration failure when it is time to establish new tree seedlings.
Not all ferns pose a problem. In fact, some species have become less common and ought to be maintained. Ferns can generally be classified into two broad categories: "clump ferns" and "single frond ferns." Clump ferns tend to cluster around a single point, whereas single frond ferns emerge from the ground individually and are more likely to form a dense carpet of cover. It is because of this that single-frond species of fern are more likely to become problematic in a forested setting.
Despite the fact that "problem ferns" are native species, they achieve unnaturally high dominance in many forested areas, and this is largely because of high whitetail deer populations. Even after whitetail deer are no longer an issue, these areas remain dominated by ferns which have already become well-established. This is sometimes referred to as "legacy effect." In this case, adequate control of interfering ferns becomes necessary to move forward with restoring the forest ecosystem, its diversity, health, and its productivity.
Above: A native hardwood forest with an overabundance of hay-scented fern.