Characteristics and Perceptions of Cost-share Funding for Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation in Virginia Urban Areas

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Virginia Tech


Since most invasive forest pests first establish in urban areas, detection and containment of these pests within cities is important to the health of all forests. While the emerald ash borer (EAB) (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) has proved difficult to contain, efforts continue to mitigate the impacts of its spread. As part of those efforts, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) initiated its Emerald Ash Borer Treatment Program (EABTP) in 2018, providing financial incentives for insecticidal protection of ash trees. To better understand the role of incentives in promoting urban forest health, I conducted a study of properties, households, and practitioners involved in the program's first year.

To examine where EABTP funding helped pay for tree protection, I conducted tree inventories on 16 urban participant properties. Concurrently with tree inventory work, I conducted web and mail surveys to examine homeowner engagement in preservation of threatened trees. Finally, to investigate the role of forest practitioners involved in program implementation, I conducted web surveys of VDOF foresters and Virginia arborists. Results demonstrated that on urban participant properties—typically large and wooded—white ash (Fraxinus americana) was the dominant species. Results from homeowner surveys demonstrated broad support for personal investment in tree preservation, and the significance of attitudinal predictors towards those intentions. Results from practitioner surveys demonstrated substantial, though not unanimous, support for the program as a benefit both to clients and forests. Implications of these findings are discussed in the context of future urban forest health initiatives.



invasive species management, forest health, incentive program