|A common sight around here|
Global trade is generally beneficial. It affords us a wide variety of goods at reasonable prices. Companies move their sourcing and manufacturing for productive efficiency and as consumers we take advantage of the lower prices. This is how economies and economic equilibrium works.
Because of these changes over the past 20 years, there have been a whole lot of shipments of goods from Asia to the US. Millions of containers have been shipped filled with the goods we need and desire. Many of these goods were stacked and secured onto pallets which are basically wooden platforms that fork lifts can easily pick-up and move.
Even these wooden pallets were made in Asia. They were made there for the same reason other products are made there; they are less expensive. If the number of containers shipped from Asia to the US is in the millions, the number of pallets that have made the trip is at least ten times that. That is a lot of wood that came from a lot of trees many of which were ash trees.
|Aninnocent looking pallet|
When these pallets first started to come this way, no one thought anything about it. Brand new pallets looked both clean and sturdy. There were no apparent issues; apparent being the key word. It is suspect those simple wood pallets might have carried the Emerald Ash Borer, an Asian species of beetle, that breeds and feeds under the bark of ash trees. In Asia, they are a nuisance. Here, because of the kinds of ash trees we have, they are tree killers.
|Ash Trees in our back yard - they look healthy from afar|
I have known about these beetles and their migration from China for at least ten years but never thought anything of it. Well, I never thought anything of it until this year. For some reason this year, I have noticed dead or dying ash trees all around Chicago land. The dead ash trees are apparent as one drives up and down I-275. Lake Forest, the town I live in, is in the process of tagging and taking down diseased trees. There are a lot of ash trees around.
We have five ash trees on our property. There are dead branches in two of them a very bad sign. They are all dropping their leaves now... a good month ahead of time. This also is not a good sign. There is an inoculation that
is given to
healthier trees once every two years that hold the Emerald Ash Borer at
bay. One arborist offered to inject our
trees. Another said the trees are
infected and damaged and probably will not survive. He gave an estimate to take them down. Neither option is cheap.
|Not so healthy up close|
EAB threatens the entire North American Fraxinus [ash tree] genus. It has killed at tens of millions of ash trees so far and threatens to kill most of the 8.7 billion ash trees throughout North America. Emerald ash borer kills young trees several years before reaching their seeding age of 10 years. Field studies of the first Michigan forests first infested with EAB showed that the borer had killed off > 99% of all living Fraxinus. Forest floor samples of these same plots resulted in ground soils void of seeds which could be capable of germinating continued generations. The loss of ash from an ecosystem can result in increased numbers of invasive plants, changes in soil nutrients, and effects on species that feed on ash.
Almost 9 billion trees? Hard to fathom.
|Adult Emerald Ash Borer - They fly from tree to tree|
|Emerald Ash Borer Larva - these kill the trees|