Forest Health Highlights
Arkansas's forests cover 18.8 million acres, more than 50 percent of the state's land area. The majority of the state's forested land, some 10.6 million acres, is in non-industrial private ownership, while approximately 2.3 million acres is national forest.
Arkansas's forests are prized for their scenic beauty, supporting tourism and outdoor recreation, and providing wildlife habitat from the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains to the Mississippi River. Major forest types in the state include oak-hickory, loblolly-shortleaf pine, oak-pine, and oak-gum-cypress.
Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) activities are cooperative efforts between the USDA Forest Service and the Arkansas Forestry Commission. FHM includes periodic measurement of fixed plots as well as regular aerial and ground surveys to detect forest damage.
2011 Forest Health Highlights
Southern pine beetle (SPB) is Arkansas' most significant forest insect pest. However, in 2011 no SPB activity was reported, a trend that has lasted for more than 14 years. The Arkansas Forestry Commission is offering cost-share incentives to landowners for thinning and restoration work as part of their comprehensive SPB Prevention and Restoration Program (SPB PRP). This program is eagerly sought and well received by landowners. The state is also making special effort to reach out to minority and underserved landowners. The SPB PRP Program enrolled 185 tracts covering 7,288 acres in 2011. Major emphasis was placed on thinning of stands with basal area of 120 or above. Of the 185 tracts, 93 covering 3,183 acres were first time thinning of these dense stands. In addition to a landowner incentive, loggers received an incentive to thin these stands.
Ips and black turpentine beetle are often attracted to trees stressed by drought or damaged during harvest operations. Statewide, populations of these beetles were far above normal late in the year due to a dry fall. Thinning of pines stands should be conducted to minimuze damage to residual trees.
Oak decline and red oak borer: Isolated pockets of ROB still crop up, but nothing on the scale of 99-04. Conditions favorable for the development of future oak decline events persist over thousands of acres. Episodic drought, advanced age, overstocked stands and poor site quality of the state's oak forests create a serious and persistent problem.
Early Oak Defoliation due to sudden and extreme late summer and early fall drought resulted in many calls concerning white and post oaks. Most trees will resume growth in the spring.
Eastern Tent Caterpillar infestations were high in most areas. Actual damage from this common defoliator was negligible.
Fall webworm, a common but noticeable pest was extremely heavy in many areas of Arkansas this year.
Gypsy moth trapping is used to make early detections of gypsy moth introduced to the state. No moths were caught in 2011. This is the 6th year with no Gypsy Moth in Arkansas.
Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Asian Longhorned Beetle is believed to have travelled to the United States inside solid wood packing material from China. Tunneling by beetle larvae girdles the tree, and repeated attacks lead to dieback of the crown and, eventually, the death of the tree.
Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle from Asia, was identified in July 2002 as the cause of widespread ash tree decline and death in southeastern Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Tens of millions of ash trees in forest, rural and urban areas have been killed or are heavily infested. The distribution of this insect is primarily due to people inadvertantly transporting infested ash nursery trees, unprocessed logs, firewood and other ash products.
Sirex woodwasp has been the most common species of exotic woodwasp detected as US ports-of-entry associated with solid wood packing materials. Recent detections outside of port areas in the US have raised concerns because this insect has the potential to cause significant mortality in pines.
Thousand Cankers Disease is spread by the tiny walnut twig beetle as it carries a fungus from diseased to healthy trees. The beetles create numberous galleries beneath the bark where the fungus grows. As the cankers grow and coalesce, twigs, branches and even trunks of trees are girdled and trees die. This is another insect/disease complex spread by movement of untreated forest products (walnut lumber or wood products with attached bark).
AFC has identified these non-native, invasive plants as potential threats to the state's forests, and is working with partner organization to detect and prevent infestations.
Chinese privet is one of the most widely invasive plants in the South. Privet can be found in dense infestations along highways and roadside margins, parks and preserves, bottomland and interior forests.
Cogon grass is an aggressive, colony-forming dense perennial grass. This plant aggressively invades right-of-ways, new forest plantations, open forests, old fields and pastures. It colonizes by rhizomes and spreads by wind-dispersed seeds, seeds and rhizomes contaminating soil and hay, and contaminating on mowing, logging and other equipment.
To view a full list of non-native, invasive plants visit the Southern Research Station's Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests.
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