COUNCIL CHRONICLE – According to the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, ash trees, a once common and abundant species across the United States, might be “on the brink of extinction”.
The update to the IUCN Red List was published on Thursday, September 14, and now includes 25,062 species threatened with extinction out of the total 87,967 included on the list.
Ash Trees, Once Abundant, Now Threatened
As pointed out in the official IUCN press release, five of the six ash tree species most prominent in North America entered the Red List with a less than enviable status. They have been declared Critically Endangered, which places them just “one step” from going extinct. The sixth species of ash trees was also added to the list but assessed as being Endangered.
IUCN points out that “Ash trees are a key component of North American forests. They provide habitat and food for birds, squirrels, and insects, and support important pollinator species such as butterflies and moths.”
Reports show that these tree’s species are being decimated by the invasive Agrilus planipennis or the Emerald Ash Borer beetle, as it is more commonly called.
Murphy Westwood declares that the decline of the ash tree is “likely” to affect more than 80 percent of the trees. Westwood is the lead of this newest assessment and a member of the IUCN’s Global Tree Specialist Group.
He continued by pointing out that this decrease will “dramatically change” the composition of urban and wild forests as well. Removing ash trees, which still cover quite extensive areas, is reportedly ‘extremely costly’.
Ash trees are also considered ecologically and economically valuable. So several studies are being conducted to try and “halt their devastating decline” and ensure the species’ survival.
The being in an ‘imminent risk of extinction’ status is underlined by the fact that ash trees are reportedly ‘disappearing’ at a faster rate than can be counted. Estimates claim that the invasive and rapid spreading emerald ash borer beetle can lead to the disappearance of a whole forest in just six years.
Tens of millions of trees have reportedly already been killed by it since its arrival in the U.S. back in the 1990s. The warming weather is also helping the beetle spread faster in areas in which it previously did not have access to because of their then colder climates.
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