Canadian Forest Service Publications

Challenges of managing the emerald ash borer: What do managers want, and what can researchers tell them? 2015. MacQuarrie, C.J.K.; Ryan, K.; Scarr, T.A.; Ryall, K.L. The Forestry Chronicle 91(3): 280-290.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36229

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Hundreds of scientific articles and thousands of media reports have been written on the emerald ash borer (EAB) since its discovery in 2002. This incredible mass of information has proved to be overwhelming for forest health professionals who may not have the time or training to base management decisions on the best or most recent findings. At the same time the direction of the research community has at times diverged from that of the management community. This led us to ask two questions: 1) how well is the knowledge generated by researchers being translated to managers? 2) What research questions are most pertinent to managers? We conducted two independent studies where we elicited the knowledge, experiences and opinions of EAB managers and researchers using targeted interviews and a knowledge exchange workshop. We found that managers were unhappy and concerned with the pace of research and how findings are translated, and think that researchers are not addressing questions that are important to managers. They also report that jurisdictional issues have impeded the management of EAB in Canada. We make four recommendations to improve the relationship between forest pest managers and researchers and improve the practice of urban forest entomology in Canada.

Plain Language Summary

In this paper we assess the needs of forest managers responding to infestations of emerald ash borer. Our study used targeted interviews and a one-day workshop to assess how much mangers of EAB knew about the insect in terms of its biology, ecology and management. We also recorded what they perceived as ‘knowledge gaps’ on these same topics and what research or management questions they felt had not been answered. Our results show that EAB managers have a good understanding of the insect but some misconceptions remain. Managers also identified a number of areas where more research is needed, but they also identified a number of areas of active research that they were not aware of. That is they perceived a knowledge gap where none exists, or is closing. There was also a general level of frustration with the response to EAB, but that in part appeared to stem from a misunderstanding of the role of different levels of government in managing pests like EAB. Our interpretation of these results was that there is a need for better knowledge transfer between managers and researchers in the urban forest in general, extending beyond just those that mange EAB. We also argue that more work is needed to clarify the roles of government in managing urban forest issues.