No. 3 September 1999
Island Invasion: Exotics Threaten Pacific Ecosystems by James C. Space and Robin Maille
Hawaii now tops the national roster as home to the most endangered plant species. Some 300 plants are now federally listed from the State. The cause? Many factors contribute, but nonnative species as severe competitors for water and nutrients, as carriers of fire, as four-legged lawn mowers, and as homes to new insects and diseases are indisputably the main culprits. If you were to stop by the roadside in Hawaii to take a picture of a plant, you would have a 50 percent chance of encountering a nonnative species.
Island ecosystems are particularly susceptible to invasion because of their isolation and evolutionary history. Miconia calvescens, a fast-growing tree native to tropical America, has virtually overwhelmed native ecosystems on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea in French Polynesia, and threatens to do the same in Hawaii. The introduction of alien grasses onto Pacific islands, including Hawaii, has changed fire regimes by increasing fuel loads and altering fire frequency, intensity, and size. These invasions may cause catastrophic change to forest and woodland communities, disruption of ecosystem processes, and extirpation of some endemic plants and animals.
Weed threats that impact most Pacific Island ecosystems remain poorly documented and evaluated. Based on recommendations by the Pacific Islands Committee of the Council of Western State Foresters, the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service provided funds to begin the Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) Project in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry (IPIF), located in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The PIER project, established in 1998, compiles and disseminates information on exotic
plant species of known or potential threat to Pacific Island ecosystems, focusing on
present and former U.S. territories. The effort involves consultation and coordination
with other Pacific Rim and island nations, as well as with international agencies to
provide information to quarantine officers, land managers, and others interested in
protecting forest and wildland ecosystems.
In August 1998, as part of the PIER Project, Jim Space and Marjorie Falanruw of IPIF conducted a survey of selected Micronesian islands for invasive plant species. They found 132 species that are invasive to wildland ecosystems. In addition, 88 species were identified that are known to be invasive in similar ecosystems, but are not present in Micronesia. There are also numerous species that are invasive weeds in gardens and pastures, but do not pose a particular threat to wildland ecosystems.
Information from the August survey was added to the PIER data base. The data base is a readily available synthesis of plants that are of known or potential threat to Pacific Island ecosystems. The data base contains information on: (1) identity; (2) growth form; (3) area of origin; (4) known or likely methods of introduction and spread; (5) other countries or regions in which the weed is a pest; (6) community types affected or potentially affected by invasion; (7) assessment of risk of introduction and potential for spread once introduced; (8) methods of control; (9) methods of eradication; and (10) further references.
The master material, in the form of summary reports for each species, is maintained on the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project Internet site (http://www/hear.org.pier), as well as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Global Plant Pest Information System, and the invasive species data base being developed by the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Using material from the website, a loose-leaf manual has been published for day-to-day use by quarantine officers and other field personnel who may not have ready access to the Internet. Once the data base is relatively complete, PIER will publish the material on CD-ROM for local use off-line.
The PIER data base provides information on weed threats that tropical and subtropical island partners need to set the policies and practices best suited to their own situations. It provides land managers assistance in working with quarantine organizations in the exclusion of plant pests; aid in identification in the field; and information and references on potential weed impact, control, and eradication.
Battling gypsy moths in Russian ports is just one of many invasive species partnerships in Europe and Russia. Forest Service scientists are involved in a wide variety of cooperative projects, which include monitoring insect populations, identifying biocontrol agents, and applying hazard-rating systems for insect pests. In addition, Forest Service scientists seek opportunities to share research findings with other scientists around the world to build on the knowledge base necessary to control or prevent the spread of invasive species. Examples of partnerships include:
Significant increases in international travel and global trade are certain to exacerbate the many problems associated with the introduction of nonnative invasive species. International cooperation on invasive species issues will continue to be an important part of Forest Service research.
Mike McManus is a research scientist at the Northeastern Center for Forest Health Research, Hamden, CT.
The ALHB, Anoplophora glabripennis Motschulsky, hitchhiked into the United States in the early 1990's on wood used for crating cargo. Since this time, the insect has damaged hardwoods in commercial, urban, and wildland forests of North America. It appears to attack not only stressed or aging trees, but also healthy trees of any age.
ALHB is native to Asia, in fact, in the People's Republic of China (PRC), 107 species of longhorned beetles injure poplar, maple, and willow species and more than 10 of these cause large-scale economic injuries. In the PRC, it has become one of the most damaging and difficult-to-control forest pests.
The only survey technique available so far in the United States and PRC is dependent on visual inspection. This method is both expensive and ineffective for detecting lightly infested trees. In the PRC, limited mechanical and insecticidal controls are used only on young individual trees. In the United States, the eradication program relies on the removal and destruction of all infected host material. The whole tree is removed, and all material is chipped and burned. Stumps are then removed by grinding.
USDA and university scientists in the United States have identified five priority areas of research and technology development to manage ALHB. They include: (1) developing survey techniques based on kairmones and pheromones (volatile chemicals emitted by one species to affect another species) from both male and female adult ALHB beetles; (2) developing control techniques to prevent egg laying or to eliminate beetles from infested trees (e.g., systemic insecticides); (3) determining which North American tree species are suitable for ALHB larval development and adult maturation feeding; (4) developing technical support for exclusion and eradication programs; and (5) performing risk assessments for possible introductions associated with wood (eg. crating, pallets, and dunnage) originating from areas where the insect is native.
USDA's Forest Service, through the Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team (Morgantown, West Virginia), and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, through the Otis Plant Protection Center (Falmouth, Massachusetts), have been collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Forestry (Dr. Ruitong Gao) and Beijing Forestry University (Dr. Youqing Luo) to develop technology for the top two priorities--survey and control techniques.
Survey Techniques In the United States and PRC, volatile compounds from host plants and beetles were collected and evaluated in the laboratory to determine if the beetles were capable of sensing them. In 1998, 11 compounds from plants and 4 compounds from the beetle were tested in Gansu Province, PRC. In 1999, the same compounds as tested in 1998 will be re-evaluated as well as five additional compounds in Ningxia Province, PRC.
Control Techniques In 1998, only two systemic insecticides were evaluated using soil injections due to problems in shipping the insecticide from United States to PRC and delayed treatment timing. In 1999, systemic insecticides will be evaluated, using soil injection, trunk injection, or trunk implantation (total of approximately 500 poplar trees) in Gansu and Hebei Provinces, PRC. Also seven insecticides will be applied directly to the bark of poplar branches in the greenhouse. ALHB will be placed on the twigs, allowed to feed, and mortality recorded.
The immediate success of these efforts is critical to managing ALHB and associated beetle species in PRC as well as identifying and eradicating infestation in the United States.
Richard Reardon is program manager, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a woody vine that covers 7 million acres from Texas to Florida, and north to Maryland. It was first introduced into the United States in 1896 as an ornamental plant and widely planted for erosion control. With few natural enemies to keep it from spreading, kudzu is invading approximately 120,000 acres each year.
The USDA Forest Service recently initiated a program to develop a practical system for biological control of kudzu. Since kudzu is native to China, the first stage will be to survey Chinese kudzu and determine what insects or diseases feed on kudzu. The most promising of these will then be studied in depth. Mass rearing techniques will have to be developed, because potential biocontrol agents will have to be tested thoroughly to be certain they will not transfer to other hosts in the United States.
The Forest Service Office of International Programs funded work to build the foundation for an expanded research effort on kudzu biological control, which includes identification of the target weed and survey for potential biocontrol agents. Introduced weeds, in their new habitat, often show more aggressive growth and different morphology than in their native homelands due to the new climate, soil types, and lack of natural enemies in their new habitat. Positive identification of the weed in its native homeland to confirm that it is the same as the weed being targeted for biological control in North America is a critical step.
The center of a weeds genetic diversity is considered the best place to look for the most diversity of biocontrol agents. It is important to review the range of the weed in its homeland, and then select the populations of the plant that have the highest chance of producing useful potential biological control agents. Hefei, in Anhui Province, has the closest climate match to the area where kudzu is a major problem in the southern United States. In May 1999, Forest Service scientists visited Hefei, and located kudzu. They will also survey further south in the mountains of Guangdong Province. Many unimproved roads complicate the search for potential biocontrol agents in rural China.
Fortunately, the Forest Service has a valuable asset in China. Dr. Jianghua Sun is coordinating kudzu research efforts there. He recently returned to China after spending 3 years working at the Southern Research Station Laboratory in Athens, Georgia, on a joint Sino-American biocontrol project involving a pine-feeding mealybug (Oracella acuta) accidently introduced into China from the United States.
Dr. Sun has recruited several entomologists and a plant pathologist to conduct systematic surveys for insects and diseases on kudzu in east central and southern China. He will implement a cooperative study plan developed by the Forest Service, North Carolina State University, and Chinese collaborators. The plan includes working with the Chinese Academy of Forestry to identify insects collected in the surveys. A literature review will then help identify insects that are potentially good biocontrol agents. A master's student at Anhui Agricultural University is already studying the life histories and feeding habits of a root-feeding beetle, a leaf-feeding beetle, and a weevil that cuts the tips off kudzu vines.
Researchers are encouraged by the array of natural insect predators of kudzu in China. In addition, the Chinese have developed a number of uses for kudzu that help keep it in check. One significant use of kudzu in rural China is to extract starch, which is considered useful against hangovers and heart disease. Forest Service scientists visited a starch factory that had 35 tons of processed starch in their warehouse from last year's harvest. One hundred pounds of kudzu roots produces 8 pounds of starch.
It is essential that Chinese and American scientists continue to work for the common good not only on kudzu, but also on many other forest management problems where interests are shared. The stronger our friendship with our Chinese colleagues, the easier it will be to achieve our common goals.
Kerry Britton is project leader for Insect and Disease Research at the Southern Research Station Laboratory, Athens, Georgia.
Protecting a Global Biodiversity Hotspot in East Africa
More than 50 percent of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity is found on less than 2 percent of the Earth's land surface, in 24 biodiversity hotspots, according to Conservation International. Included among these hotspots are the mountain forests in East Africa, where the USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Centre (Nairobi, Kenya), Sokoine University (Morogoro, Tanzania), and University of Georgia are beginning a 3-year evaluation of forest health and land use change.
One of the key features of biodiversity hotspots is that they are threatened with destruction. The Eastern Arc Mountains serve as water catchments for urban areas and provide firewood, medicinal plants, lumber, and other forest-related products. Local villagers depend on these forests to live, although the mountain forests are now a patchwork of forest fragments and agriculture.
Information gathered in the study will be used to identify areas where remedial measures are most needed. The main components of the study are satellite imagery, permanently marked forest health plots and a web page for information exchange. The current project involves Forest Service employees Denny Ward (Southern Region), Chuck Dull (Washington Office), and Gerry Hertel (Northeastern Area). Dr. Keith Douce (University of Georgia), Dr. Seif Madoffe (Sokoine University) and Professor Joe Mwangi (Forest Health Centre and Moi University) complete the team.
For more information contact Gerry Hertel (tel: 610-975-4124 or firstname.lastname@example.org )or visit the following websites: http://www.bugwood.caes.uga.edu/easternarc/, http://www.conservation.org/web/fieldact/hotspots/priority.htm
Alaska/Pacific Northwest Team Wins Chief's International Forestry Award
The sixth Chief's International Forestry Award was presented to Wayne C. Bushnell, Chad M. Converse, Paul W. Forward (Alaska Region), George H. Moeller (Washington Office), Gary A. Morrison (Northern Region), and Peyton W. Owston, (Pacific Northwest Region-retired) on June 8, 1999, in Washington, DC. The award was established to recognize contributions that exceed normal job responsibilities to promote the global mission of the Forest Service and the foreign policy objectives of the United States. The team was recognized for their outstanding contributions to a successful cooperative program with the Federal Forest Service of Russia (RFFS) and others in promoting sustainable forestry in the Russian Far East.
The team has been working with the RFFS, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other organizations in the Russian Far East since 1994 to improve the capacity for fire suppression and reforestation. Technical advice and assistance from the United States have helped the RFFS purchase much-needed fire equipment such as fire trucks, computers for lightning detection, hand tools, and protective clothing. In addition, based on U.S. Forest Service designs, reforestation facilities including buildings for long-term storage of tree seeds, and energy efficient greenhouses, have helped improve seedling crops used for reforestation. Russian foresters have had the opportunity to participate in a series of seminars in Russia on a variety of topics as well as traveling to the United States to observe forestry practices. The work already accomplished will have long-term benefits to the forest resources and biodiversity in Russia as well as improving cultural understanding among the participants in both countries.
IITF Celebrates 60th Anniversary
In celebration of its 60th Anniversary IITF sponsored a week-long scientific conference, May 23-28, 1999, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on the restoration of tropical forests and the importance of urban forestry. Participants enjoyed plenary talks by distinguished scientists, field trips to various locations on the island, and a gala dinner with Chief Dombeck (USDA/FS) as the keynote speaker. An audience that included representatives from over 25 countries worldwide attended the conference.
In 1928, the McSweeney-McNary Forest Research Act authorized the establishment of a Forest Experiment Station in the "tropical possessions of the United States in the West Indies." That authorization led to the establishment of the Tropical Forest Experiment Station in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, in 1939. Today, the expanded International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) has responsibility for programs in State and Private Forestry, International Forestry, and Research and Development. IITF has been successful in achieving its mission with a strong international flavor.
FS Assists with Humanitarian Needs of Kosovar Refugees
During the month of June 1999 the Forest Service had 11 people supporting the logistics, operations, Geographic Information Systems and field requirements for the U.S. Government efforts to respond to the Kosovo refugee humanitarian situation. Forest Service personnel on temporary detail worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development Emergency Operations Center at the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in Washington, at an airlift departure base in Italy, and refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia.
Ron Libby and Greg Garbinsky of the International Programs Disaster Assistance Support Program both spent a good part of their summers working with humanitarian needs of Kosovar refugees as they return to their homeland from refugee camps in Albania and Macedonia. Ron has been focusing on agriculture and natural resource issues in Albania and Kosovo. Greg helped organize and coordinate assistance efforts from Macedonia.
Developing a Fire Suppression Plan for Riau and South Sumatra Provinces, Indonesia
In the fire prone provinces of Indonesia, provincial government agencies are recognizing and grappling with the regional concerns over health and economic impacts of haze caused by forest and land fires. Two USDA Forest Service fire suppression technical advisors were part of a team that traveled within Riau and South Sumatra provinces in May to collect information necessary to develop a prototype fire suppression mobilization plan. Working with Indonesian counterparts, they identified strengths and weaknesses in the existing fire suppression mobilization system. Indonesian team members took an increasingly active role in plan development as information was collected and they wrote the entire prototype plan with minimal assistance. Team meetings provided a forum for dialogue around fire issues and many previously unrecognized resources were identified as available for involvement in fire suppression efforts.
Protected Forest Areas Issues Explored at International Experts Meeting
The governments of Brazil and the United States sponsored an international experts meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the week of March 15, 1999, to discuss issues related to protected forest areas. The goal of the meeting was to distill the wisdom of experts worldwide into succinct conclusions and practical recommendations for protected areas. The meeting centered around five themes, which included: classification systems and management effectiveness for protected forest areas, criteria for establishing protected sites, economic viability of protected areas, and the benefits and mechanisms for protecting them.
While there is a general consensus among nations that protecting forest areas is important, a need exists for consistent information regarding the status of these areas. Other information needs include identifying methods for initiating policies, funding mechanisms, and field level management tools that foster the protection of forest areas and expand their benefits to local populations.
After a week of intense and often spirited debate, the participants reached a consensus on 8 conclusions and 16 recommendations. The conclusions stress the need for promoting synergies, eliminating inconsistencies, and developing methods and indicators. The recommendations urge countries and institutions to provide increased financial support for consolidating and expanding protected forest area systems and to adopt a landscape, ecosystem, or bioregional approach to protected forest area system planning.
Watershed Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Post-Hurricane Mitch
Scott Lampman (Office of International Programs) and Scott Lewis (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service/ International Cooperation and Development) conducted a 2-week trip to Central America in May to help program approximately $6 million set aside for watershed reconstruction and rural infrastructure rehabilitation following Hurricane Mitch and Hurricane George. They traveled to Guatemala and El Salvador and worked with U.S. Agency for International Development Mission staff, other U.S. Government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to program the funds. The Forest Service may be involved with implementing watershed work in the future in the above two countries as well as Honduras. Funds for this work are part of a $20 million package to USDA to assist with post-Hurricane work.
The CIDA Forestry Advisers Network (CFAN) has recently posted a new presentation on its website - Deforestation: Tropical Forests in Decline. Visit it at: http://www.rcfa-cfan.org
The Proceedings from the Central African Non-Wood Forest Products Workshop, May 1998, will soon be available in either French or English. For a hardcopy please send a request to:
Paul Vantomme, Non-Wood Forest Products Officer, Wood and Non-Wood Utilization Branch, FOPW, Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO, Via Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, Italy, Tel.: (++39) 06 570 54064, Fax: (++39) 06 570 55618, Email: Paul.Vantomme@fao.org. The publication will soon become available on the FAO NWFP website: http://www.fao.org/WAICENT/FAOINFO/FORESTRY/NWFP/NONWOOD.HTM
The English version is currently available on the website for the Central African Regional Program for the Environment: http://carpe.gecp.virginia.edu
The Forestry Greenbook, formatted by country, state, province and type of industry, contains useful information on over 24,000 forestry and forestry related companies, as well as educational institutions. The regular price is $199 U.S.. Sale price is $139 U.S. plus tax, shipping, and handling charges. For more information visit www.forestryunlimited.com. You can order on-line or by contacting email@example.com.
The hands-on Participatory Rural Appraisal and Planning (PRAP) Workbook, written by D. Selener, M. Endara, and J. Carvajal, provides guidelines for conducting PRAP to identify and design community and regional level projects based on local needs. The book explains 22 different participatory appraisal and planning tools and provides more than 50 illustrations of actual field exercises. The cost of the workbook is $25 U.S., postage included. Mail checks to IIRR, Apartado Postal 17-08-8494, Quito, Ecuador, South America. A 20 percent discount is available on orders of 10 or more books. For more information, contact IIRR at fax #: (593-2)443-763 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new world map shows the distribution of some of the most highly valued terrestrial biodiversity including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and seed plants. Visit: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/science/projects/worldmap
A global clearinghouse website of information, resources, and recommendations in gender, science, and technology (GST) for equitable and sustainable development was launched June 29, 1999. The GST Gateway contains policy recommendations; examples of case studies and best practices; key issues and research; existing initiatives; and lists of resources, including organizations working in each area, publications, and internet resources. The Gateway is designed for development experts, governments, and the private sector. It is found at http://gstgateway.wigsat.org
Three new websites are currently under construction providing information on biodiversity, conservation funds, and ecotourism. Check back often to see how they progress. All sites operate on an independent and volunteer basis.
If you have documents or links to share contact the editor and webmaster, John Shores, via e-mail at: email@example.com
The field manuals, Imperata Grassland Rehabilitation Using Agroforestry and Assisted Natural Regeneration, by Kathleen S. Friday, M. Elmo Drilling, and Dennis P. Garrity (167 pp.) and its companion volume, Imperata Management for Smallholders, by the Indonesian Rubber Research Institute and Natural Resources Institute, UK (48 pp.), are now available from the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF). The manuals are designed for extensionists, agriculturists, foresters, development workers, and others who can assist communities and smallholders to design and implement Imperata rehabilitation activities. For copies contact: ICRAF Southeast Asian Regional Research Programme, Jl. CIFOR, Situ Gerde, Sindang Barang, Bogor 16680, PO Box 161, Bogor 16001, Indonesia, fax +62-251-625-416, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
USDA Interagency Research Forum on Gypsy Moth and Other Invasive Species,
International Seminar on Forest and Natural Resource Administration and
For other meetings and workshops related to international natural resource management, visit the following: Agriculture Network Information Center, http://www.agnic.org/mtg International Institute for Sustainable Development: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/updates/ and International Tropical Timber Organization: http://www.itto.or.jp/newsletter/v9n2/26.html