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The Working Forest

Socio-economic impacts from invasive species are also experienced in the forest industry. Social impacts within the forest industry itself can arise from a reduction in income for forestry workers who rely on stable and high wood supplies. Ontario’s forest industry is responsible for over 200,000 jobs across the province (OMNDMF 2011) (Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy (MNR, 2011)), and the future of these jobs is uncertain as timber resources are threatened by invasive species.

The greatest direct economic impact of forest pest outbreaks is felt by the forestry sector, through reduced wood supply or through reduced wood quality. This can greatly lower revenues for forest companies due to reduced harvest levels, impacting the economic strength of the sector (NRCan, 2014). Pimental et al. (2005) estimate that $2.1 billion worth of forest products is lost each year to invasive species in the United States. Canada’s annual timber losses due to invasives are estimated at 61 million m3 which is equivalent to $720 million in losses (Canadian Action Plan for Invasive Alien Terrestrial Plant and Plant Pests (CFIA, September, 2004). 

There is special concern over the potential Asian longhorn beetle outbreak. This beetle attacks a wide range of hardwood trees and poses a threat to the hardwood products and maple syrup industries, whose products were valued in 1997 at $480 million and $130 million respectively (An Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada, 2004). 

Image: USDA Forest Service Forest Operation Research, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org