The emerald ash borer is poised to wipe out native ashes in North America with expected catastrophic losses to the ash tree forestry. Our objective is to provide estimates of the regional economic and ecological impact the emerald ash borer will inflict upon Ohio and Michigan. Achieving this objective required several steps. First estimating the potential habitat using Forest Inventory and Analysis data and Landsat data. Second we built a dispersal model incorporating both the ability of the emerald ash borer to spread naturally and via human-mediated dispersal, which included incorporating roads, wood products industries and campgrounds. Third, we estimated the value of the ash industry using a computable general equilibrium model (CGE) and the potential direct costs to urban areas. Finally, we use a Stochastic Dynamic Programming model to integrate these modeling efforts and to derive optimal timing and execution of strategies to control the spread of emerald ash borer on a regional basis.
The potential habitat modeling resulted in estimates of the amount of ash tree habitat per hectare throughout Ohio and Michigan. Surveys of Ohio cities also enabled us to estimate the about of ash trees used in landscaping and in urban settings. The dispersal model was used to predict the relative risk of infestation in Ohio and Michigan. This model was then adapted to assess the influence and benefits of different levels of eradication throughout the invasion. Surveys of Ohio cities suggest that the ash borer invasion will have direct costs of over $150,000 per 1000 individuals due to tree removal and replacement. The CGE results showed welfare losses across several scenarios with a $3.37 million loss to the logging and paper sectors in particular. Finally, our preliminary results of the SDP models suggest that the cost and benefit of eradication at a given site will be a function of proximity to neighboring sites. Based on these results we hope to provide policy-makers with quantitative guidance for cost-effective alternative strategies to control, prevent, or slow the spread of emerald ash borer.