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USAID Funds New Partnership to Boost Urban Emergency Preparedness and Response in Addis Ababa
(July 2013)

Emerald Ash Borer

Members of Addis Ababa Fire Emergency Prevention and Rescue Agency ’s newest class of recruits participate in initial firefighter training

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Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is undergoing a dramatic population boom.  However, its emergency preparedness response systems have not kept pace. 

A new partnership will bolster the city’s preparedness and its emergency response.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding the effort which will improve emergency services for the city’s some 3.5 million residents.   The US Forest Service International Programs and Addis Ababa Fire Emergency Prevention and Rescue Agency (FEPRA) are working together to assess needs and deliver results on the ground

Partners are developing a program to identify gaps, to find ways to maximize resource efficiency and effectiveness, and to develop leadership and organizational capacity for long term sustainability.   The program has already identified areas for improvement.  A prime example is that many of the city’s residents don’t know how to use the 911 emergency number—or even that it exists.  Subsequently, improving public outreach on disaster awareness and emergency preparedness has been added to the program of work. 

right arrowLATEST: Branching Out, the International Visitor Program newsletter (June 2013) :

IVP newsletter

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right arrow The Wings Across the Americas Conservation Awards was held on March 27, 2013 at the 78th North American Wildlife Conference! 

right arrow Flylines, the
Wings Across the Americas
newsletter (March 2013):

WATA newsletter

 

Several factors make the residents of Addis Ababa vulnerable to disasters including high numbers of residents living in hazardous areas and/or informal settlements—increasing risk for man-made and natural disasters including floods, landslides, structural fire, disease outbreaks, and traffic accidents.  An additional concern is the city’s earthquake vulnerability, as it is situated on the Rift Valley system of East Africa.

Partners are hopeful because FEPRA has being participating actively in the US Forest Service-implemented National Incident Management System program of Ethiopia since 2010, and has consistently shown outstanding commitment.  John Wendt, retired USFS, and Lead Program Implementer for the Ethiopia program since 2009 commented “the men and women from FEPRA have impressed us from the start – their enthusiasm for the work is evident in every training session.  They are hungry to learn and improve their skills, building upon what is already a very cohesive organization.  Through their relationships, we can work with all the ministries in the city of Addis government and improve their ability to address urban disasters in the future.

During the initial three years of the program, activities will to focus specifically on urban emergency preparedness and response in order to protect the lives and property of Addis Ababa residents. 

 

Success in Controlling Destructive Invasive Forest Pests
(June 2013)

Emerald Ash Borer

US Forest Service’s International Programs, Northern Research Station, the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and the Chinese Academy of Forestry are working together on finding the natural enemies of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.

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Last month, millions of ½ inch long green insects, the emerald ash borer (EAB,) emerged from Ash trees to feed on the leaves and lay eggs in the crevices of the tree’s bark.  First detected in Michigan about ten years ago, the exotic invasive beetle has killed more than 100 million ash trees in at least 15 states.  The insect’s larva feed on the inner bark of all 22 species of native ash trees, killing almost every tree infested within two to five years. 

The beetle’s success lies in the fact that once it is in the US, it encounters few natural enemies and little resistance from ecosystems that have evolved without them.  By identifying the pest’s natural enemies, measures to reduce populations of the pest can be developed. Such biocontrol measures are seen as the gold standard.  Existing pesticides are often ineffective and expensive, requiring application every two years to infected trees.   

An exciting partnership between International Programs, US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and the Chinese Academy of Forestry is building on recent breakthroughs in the biocontrol of the invasive pest.  The breakthrough came from ARS scientists who found three natural enemies of the emerald ash borer in Asia.  The question now is whether or not the newly-identified natural enemies can overwinter in places like Michigan—and serve as an effective biocontrol agent for the EAB.

The scientists will also be looking for other wood-boring insect species that may have a high risk of becoming invasive in the US.  It is hoped that the results of this collaboration will help us find more parasitoids of the EAB and, with a little luck, halt its destructive path. 

Collaboration on three continents to research the European woodwasp

woodwasp

The European woodwasp, Sirex noctilio, is a threat to pine forests in the southern hemisphere and has become established in the State of New York.

US Forest Service researchers are making progress with partners at Dartmouth College on understanding the European woodwasp.  The pest has become a serious threat to pine forests in the southern hemisphere—and it has recently become established in New York State, prompting concerns about potential impacts and solutions. International Programs is working with partners to look at the spread and impact of this species in South Africa, Argentina and Spain.  The intercontinental comparisons will, it is hoped, lead to the development of effective management strategies for containing this destructive pest in the US and elsewhere. 

New Software Helps to Improve Transparency in Timber Harvesting
(April 2013)

scarlet tanager

The US Forest Service and USAID joined Ucayali regional officials for the first successful application of the prototype at a checkpoint in Pucallpa.

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Newly-developed computer software means that officials in Peru will be better able to check chain of custody in timber harvests—which has been difficult until now.

The General Directory for Forestry and Wildlife, under the Ministry of Agriculture of Peru, officially launched the software prototype of Peru’s National Forest and Wildlife Information System in February of this year.  Multiple stakeholders from national and regional governments, the private sector and academia attended the event launching the software.

The launch marks an important milestone for improved transparency and timber chain of custody.  The effort was due to US Agency for International Development (USAID) support to Peru through the US Forest Service International Programs and Chief of Information Office.  The prototype is currently being field-tested in Peru’s most complex timber corridor, from harvest in the region of Loreto, to transformation in Ucayali, and transportation over the Andes to the port of Callao (near Lima) for export. At a checkpoint in Pucallpa, Ucayali, officials successfully utilized the prototype to generate its first automated guia de transporte, or transport waybill. At least two more test corridors will follow in the coming months.

The prototype entails a central application and database that will enable the Government of Peru to systematically collect and store information, track the origin of harvested trees, and help ensure that they have in fact been harvested legally. Moreover, the prototype, and subsequent software developments will equip federal and state officials with critical, timely information to make informed decisions regarding concessionaires, human resource allocations at checkpoints, and warranting administrative actions.

With funding from USAID, the US Forest Service has been assisting the General Directory for Forestry and Wildlife in the business mapping, planning and design of the system since 2010. Technical and management personnel of both the United States and Peru have made several knowledge transfer trips. The aim of the prototype is to test Peruvian internet connections and other technical infrastructure, develop Peruvian capacity to manage information more efficiently, and ultimately to generate information that will form the foundation of a competitive process in Peru for developing the national forestry information management system. Building on the success of the prototype and subsequent developments, the Government of Peru will use the system for official use, both nationally and in the regions, to improve the transparency of a sector that only benefits from more and better chain of custody information. 

What Do Birds and Coffee Have in Common? (March 2013)

scarlet tanager

In Colombia, as it turns out, they share the same habitat.  Since 2005, the US Forest Service International Programs worked with Cénicafe, the Colombian National Coffee Research Center, The Nature Conservancy and other partners to protect these birds and engage the people who share their habitat.  Our involvement started eight years ago when the Center conducted a bird census in eight communities.  Since its inception, the work has expanded to include teaching the communities about the habitat needs of birds in coffee-growing regions.  The work is significant because it shows that recreational birding can lead to real conservation results. 

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Success in Using Parasites to Control the Destructive Emerald Ash Borer

(February 2012)

EAB

In partnership with the USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS),  the US Forest Service International Programs is building on recent research breakthroughs in biological control, or biocontrol, for the destructive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB beetle), which threatens the very existence of native ash trees (Fraxinus spp.).   The beetle’s success lies in the fact that once it is in the US, it encounters few natural enemies and little resistance from ecosystems that had evolved without them.  By identifying the pest’s natural enemies, measures to reduce populations of the pest can be taken.   An important breakthrough came from ARS scientists who found three parasitoid wasps in Asia which are natural enemies of EAB.  Now, the focus is on seeing if the three wasps can overwinter in places like Michigan—and be an effective biocontrol agent for EAB.

Building on this breakthrough, a new partnership formed between the US Forest Service’s Northern Research Station, the USDA Agriculture Research Service and counterparts in China.  With support from International Programs, the partners are working to find additional natural enemies of EAB in its native range.  Two locations with different forest types will be selected in China and specimens of key natural enemies, primarily egg and larval parasitoids, will be collected and evaluated for their potential use in biological control programs.  The scientists will also be looking for other wood-boring insect species that may have a high risk of becoming invasive in the US.  Ultimately, this effort will contribute to the use of biocontrol agents, including parasitoid wasps, which is likely to continue to be a fundamental key to understanding and managing EAB in North America.  It is hoped that the results of this collaboration will help us find more parasitoids of the EAB and, with a little luck, halt its destructive path. 

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