Invasive Species

Invasive species have been identified by the Chief of the U.S.Department of Agriculture Forest Service as one of the four significant threats to our Nation’s forest and rangeland ecosystems. In response to this identified threat, a multidisciplinary team of specialists, managers, and researchers has worked together to produce a National Strategy and Implementation Plan for Invasive Species Management.

What is an Invasive Species?

Invasive species have been characterized as a “catastrophic wildfire in slow motion.” Thousands of non-native invasive plants, insects, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, pathogens, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have infested hundreds of millions of acres of land and water across the Nation, causing massive disruptions in ecosystem function, reducing biodiversity, and degrading ecosystem health in our Nation’s forests, prairies, mountains, wetlands, rivers, and oceans. Invasive organisms affect the health of not only the Nation’s forests and rangelands but also of wildlife, livestock, fish, and humans.

A species is considered invasive if it meets these two criteria:

  1. It is nonnative to the ecosystem under consideration, and
  2. Its introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

This definition is derived from Executive Order 13112, issued on February 3, 1999, which established the National Invasive Species Council.

Management of invasive species within the Forest Service occurs within a framework of laws, regulations, directives, and plans. In 2011 the Forest Service developed a new section to the Forest Service Manual (FSM) under code 2900, entitled Invasive Species Management. This FSM 2900 sets forth National Forest System policy, responsibilities, and direction for the prevention, detection, control, and restoration of effects from aquatic and terrestrial invasive species (including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, and pathogens).

Invasives Caught Entering the State

Features

Firewood Movement: Buy It Where You Burn It!

Logs on fire.

The movement of firewood can be a source of introduction and dissemination of invasive forest insects and diseases into and around the United States. Pests such as the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer are established in other states and would cause great harm if they became established in California. The gold spotted oak borer, sudden oak death, and pitch canker are invasive pests that are established in parts of California and would cause additional harm if they became established in other parts of the state. Resource management professionals and scientists recognize that transport of firewood is one of the principal means by which many invasive pests are spread from one area to another.

Spotlights

Invasive Plants

A photograph of Yellow starthistle by Charles Turner, USDA ARS, that is estimated to cover over 12

The spread of invasive plants in the Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) is threatening the health of our forest, rangeland, and aquatic ecosystems. The spread of invasive plant species...

Invasive Insects

Invasion pathways into California are numerous, and the number of invasive insects detected increases annually. The mild weather in California, in combination with most invasive insects...

 




Invasive Diseases

Several introduced diseases have caused high levels of tree mortality in forest tree species in California. The pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death (SOD) has killed over 3 million...

Invasive Insects & Diseases of the Hawaiian and Western Pacific Islands

The invasive species problem on the Hawaiian and western Pacific Islands is both serious and daunting. A new pest reaches Hawaii once every 18 days on average. In 1993, the federal Office...



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Highlights

  • Goal of the Invasive Species Program
    The goal of the USDA Forest Service invasive species program is to reduce, minimize, or eliminate the potential for introduction, establishment, spread, and impact of invasive species across all landscapes and ownerships.