U.S. Forest Service and Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada officials convened last week for the first forest health summit between the two countries to discuss issues of common concern such as invasive species.
"The borders that separate the United States and Canada don't segregate threats to our natural resources," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The countries share common environmental concerns. It is critical that we continue to collaborate and address current and future land management challenges as partners."
The overall goal of the summit was to explore and develop a co-operative vision and plan for actions to address forest health challenges. The Forest Service has a long history of working with Canadian researchers and land managers, but until now collaborations have typically occurred among individual researchers working on specific projects.
"This summit is an important first step toward the creation of a Canada-U.S. forest science agenda," said the Honorable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources Canada. "By identifying issues on which we can work together, we aim to maximize the value of the critical work that scientists and researchers are doing on both sides of the border to ensure the health of our forests and forest sector."
Warmer temperatures throughout the United States and Canada have threatened forests by increasing the risk of pests and associated diseases and pollutants. Mountain pine beetles and Emerald Ash Borers are having a significant impact on North America's forests.
The mountain pine beetle has directly caused tens of billions of dollars in damage in both countries. The Emerald Ash Borer, identified just over a decade ago near Detroit, and Windsor, Ontario, has eliminated millions of ash trees from urban, suburban, and native forests. The insect is expected to cause more than $2 billion per year in the two countries during the next 10 years.
Land managers from the two countries point to science, risk analyses, modeling, and land based information systems as key focus areas to combat evolving land threats.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Recreational activities on our lands contribute $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.