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Landscape Scale Research Addresses Southern Pine Beetle

Southern Research Station and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests - December 2004

As part of implementing the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, the Southern Region of the Forest Service and the Southern Research Station, in cooperation with several universities and state agencies, have launched a landscape scale research project (500 acres) examining the most effective ways to mitigate the outbreak of southern pine beetle. As southern pine beetle infestations continue to plague the region, research into the factors that contribute to severe infestation, as well as the characteristics of tree stands resistant to the threat, may be the best approach to addressing the situation. This research involves many valuable partners ranging from government to academia.

Purpose and Need

In the South, one of the biggest forest management challenges is the southern pine beetle. Attacking timber stands throughout the region, it is estimated that 57 million acres distributed across all land ownerships in the South are at risk of infestation. From 1999 to the present, the southern pine beetle outbreak has caused standing timber value losses of over $1.5 billion on almost 1 million acres, or the equivalent to the lumber needed to build approximately 187,000 single-family homes. In addition to being unsightly, the tree mortality caused by bark beetle infestations creates the risk of catastrophic wildfires posing the threat to numerous homes and communities across the South.

The project involves:

  • Identify forest conditions that promote resistance to southern pine beetle
  • Test various landscape configurations that minimize the risk of southern pine beetle incidence across diverse ownerships
  • Share research findings with land managers in the field and the landowners they serve
  • Establish the study of this situation in the summer of 2004, with treatments of study areas completed before the 2005 growing season
  • Report initial results following spring 2008

Partners Include

  • Southern Research Station
  • University of Arkansas
  • Texas A&M University
  • Ouachita National Forest
  • Kisatchie National Forest
  • National Forests of Texas
  • State & Private Forestry, Forest Health Protection
  • Region 8, USDA Forest Service
  • West Gulf State Forestry Commissions
  • West Gulf State Game & Fish Commissions
  • West Gulf State Heritage Commissions