The Economics of Emerald Ash Borer Management: A Comparison of Doing Nothing, Preemptive Removal, Replacement, and Treatment
2011| Dr. Richard J. Hauer, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis (Fairmaire) (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), plays a significant role in the health and extent of management of native North American ash species in urban forests. An economic analysis of management options was performed to aid decision makers in preparing for likely future infestations. Separate ash tree population valuations were derived from the i-Tree Streets program and the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers (CTLA) methodology. A relative economic analysis was used to compare a control option (do-nothing approach, only removing ash trees as they die) to three distinct management options: 1) preemptive removal of all ash trees over a 5 yr period, 2) preemptive removal of all ash trees and replacement with comparable non-ash trees, or 3) treating the entire population of ash trees with insecticides to minimize mortality. For each valuation and management option, an annual analysis was performed for both the remaining ash tree population and those lost to emerald ash borer. Retention of ash trees using insecticide treatments typically retained greater urban forest value, followed by doing nothing (control), which was better than preemptive removal and replacement. Preemptive removal without tree replacement, which was the least expensive management option, also provided the lowest net urban forest value over the 20-yr simulation. A “no emerald ash borer” scenario was modeled to further serve as a benchmark for each management option and provide a level of economic justification for regulatory programs aimed at slowing the movement of emerald ash borer.