Better safe than sorry – Ash salvage update

Better safe than sorry – Ash salvage update

Half a year ago, we made the first post on our efforts to get ahead of the Emerald Ash Borer. In the meantime, Agrilus Planipennis Fairmaire, enemy No. 1 of North American Ash expanded into one additional state (South Carolina, No. 31) ... and five more of our own properties. At least! Early stages of an attack are hard to detect, tiny D-shaped exit holes are only some 3-4 mm wide. Finding them is difficult enough up to 2 meters ... and almost impossible above that. Later on, traces of woodpeckers‘ diet enrichment, bark falling off and crowns dying back make detection much easier, but by then also the timber quality has been affected.

Ash EAB exit hole
An Emerald Ash Borer's tiny exit hole.

„Winter is coming!“ and the beetle and its larvae will cease their activities for some months. We will not! ... but concentrate on tracts with good access even with snow and those where freezing of soft ground helps with logging activities. By now, we harvested more than half of our original Ash saw- and veneer log inventory. We are well aware that pushing this mark even higher gets increasingly difficult. We had started where „fruits hang low“ and Ash volumes were high and now move into areas with decreasing density of Ash. Combining the excellent local knowledge of our experienced foresters and modern GIS-techniques (GIS = Geographical Information System), we continue to give priority to the relatively more rewarding and feasible areas.

Ash map
Blue: former Ash in salvaged area, Green: Ash in not yet salvaged area

While most of the timber harvested by Danzer Forestland over the last 2 ½ years was Ash, the regional participation of Ash on total hardwood harvest did not spike that much. Some forest owners started Ash salvaging earlier than we, others seem to be less scared. Time will tell who is right. We fear: us ... and hope: them ... for the benefit of this specie, highly appreciated as part of the forest ecosystems AND for beautiful furniture, flooring, baseball bats, tool handles etc.! But also: in routine post-harvest-inventories, we discover every now and then that we missed an Ash (bigger than the 27.5 cm of diameter at breast height we had defined as minimum)! Psshht, don‘t tell, maybe the beetle misses them, too.

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About the Author

Hermann Hampel

Project Manager Danzer Forestland

Hermann Hampel was investigating the dynamics of native forests in Argentina before joining Danzer there in 1998. He managed the afforestation project with high value hardwoods in the province of Misiones until 2012 and thereby applied innovative techniques like mixed plantations, natural regeneration and shelter-wood planting. Today he works on the optimization of Veneer Production and Forest Management for Danzer in North America. Among others, in order to still see the forest for the trees, he converted vast amounts of data from Forest Inventories into a compact GIS. He lives with his wife and two children in Ohio, USA.