Sunday, June 23

Biologists Urge People to Buy Firewood Locally, Prevent Spread of Invasive Species

Could firewood be a carrier for invasive species? According to international biologists, this is often the case both locally and around the globe.On Manitoulin Island, Ontario, biologists are working to prevent the spread of invasive species, and preserve the current ecology. The crew there says that tourism has been a big part of bringing invasive species onto the island.

“It can easily be transported on the tires and under the sides of recreational vehicles, bottom sides of boots, even on pets and bicycle tires,” says Eric Labelle, part of the Ontario Invading Species Awareness Program. “So it’s important to try to clean these items before you got to the next region, or you could be transporting the invasive species.”

One big carrier of invasive species, he points out, is firewood. Firewood often transports pests that find refuge in the wood. Once transported, they can quickly spread to entirely new areas. The highly destructive emerald ash borer, which many areas are spending millions of dollars to keep at bay, is frequently brought to new feeding areas by people transporting firewood over long distances. It has so far spread to 22 states and two Canadian provinces, and is one of the key invasive species that cities are trying to contain.

“That’s something that’s imperative to know, is to buy and sell your firewood locally, not to bring your firewood over the Chi-Cheemaun or over the bridge from other areas,” says Labelle. Buying local firewood and other landscaping material is key to the prevention of certain ecological invasions that have the potential of wreaking biological and economical havoc. The emerald ash borer beetle is not a threat to ash trees — it’s the larvae that eat through trees and kill the majority of them within five years, which can cost both residential areas and the logging industry millions of dollars in lost trees.

“The Emerald ash borer is an invasive species which is predominantly found in ash trees, and can do destruction in a hurry on a tree. By reducing the length of distance firewood travels you reduce the risk of transmitting this invasive species to locations where it is not currently present.” says Don Saunders, President at Saunders Landscape Supply 

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