Keeping Southern Forests Healthy and Strong

Monday, December 19, 2016

By Dr. David Coyle, Forest Health and Invasive Species Program at Southern Regional Extension Forestry

Tree-munching insects, marauding fungi, and non-native plants are threatening the health of forests in the Southern United States.  

To combat these menaces, accurate, up-to-date information on pest and invasive species management and control is key.  

The Forest Health and Invasive Species Program, led by David Coyle and administered through the office of Southern Regional Extension Forestry, works closely with forest health organizations from throughout the southeastern United States. Coyle's aim is to arm state forestry agency and county-level extension personnel with the latest and most effective information on methods for ensuring that our forests remain healthy and free of hungry pests and damaging weeds. The program operates within 13 southeastern states and provides a wealth of online and in-person opportunities for training and education.  Many resources are available, including:

  • Fact Sheets: these contain multiple color images to help with the diagnosis of forest health issues, an overview of the biology and ecology of the pest, discussion on different management strategies, and a list of additional resources available.  These are available on the website and are divided into categories based on whether a threat is plant-, insect-, or fungi-based.
  • Webinars: these are presented during the spring and fall, and can be viewed live or on-demand about a week after the live webinar.  All webinars are free, eligible for continuing education units (always the Society of American Foresters, Georgia Master Timber Harvester, Mississippi Professional Logging Manager, Texas Pro Logger Program, and sometimes International Society of Arboriculture), and available at http://southernforesthealth.net/webinars.  Work is proceeding toward accreditation for other state-specific CEUs as well (e.g. pesticide credits).  Available webinar topics include Chinese tallowtree, cogongrass, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, laurel wilt, Heterobasidion root disease, and oak wilt.  Planned webinars for 2017 include hemlock woolly adelgid, southern pine beetle, southern pine decline, thousand cankers disease, the impact of weather on forest health, and the intersection of invasive forest pests and firewood movement.
  • Workshops: Dr. Coyle travels to several states each year conducting multiple day workshops.  Workshops include a classroom portion, complete with hands-on displays, and a field trip to see insect and fungal damage and invasive plants firsthand.

The Forest Health and Invasive Species program is a partnership between the USDA Forest Service – Forest Health Protection program, the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and Southern Regional Extension Forestry

In addition, Coyle regularly posts information pertaining to forest health, invasive species, and management on his Twitter profile (@drdavecoyle) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/southernforesthealth).  

Please contact David Coyle at dcoyle@sref.info for more information or to get involved in the effort!