Forest Health and Invasive Species

Western forests must be responsibly managed to ensure ecological, economic and social sustainability.

The health of Western forests is in decline. Since 1997, native beetle species have chewed through and killed trees across more than 40 million acres of Western forests, according to aerial surveys by the USDA Forest Service. 

These acres are at risk because much of the region’s forested landscape now lacks the structural, species, and spatial diversity necessary to resist and slow bark beetle attack. This affects billions of dollars per year in clean water, air and recreation.

Forest health issues are not confined to rural forests — tree health and stand vigor is challenged in many urban and community settings as well. 

In fact, some of the most destructive forest health problems historically have been invasive species and diseases that impact community forests and trees, including: 

  • Chestnut Blight
  • Asian Longhorned Beetle
  • Thousand Canker Disease
  • Emerald Ash Borer

Overly dense forests are susceptible to both native and non-native insect and disease invasions, as well as extreme weather events, and uncharacteristic wildfire. These risks threaten not only the health of Western forests, but also that of adjacent communities, economies, watersheds, airsheds, wildlife habitats, and recreation areas across the West. 

Western forests must continue to be managed to ensure their health, resilience and sustainability today and for generations to come. Working across jurisdictional boundaries is essential to successfully addressing forest health issues across the West.