Forest & Grassland Health


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The southern forest extends over 182 million acres and forestry accounts for the land use of three out of every five acres in the South. The southern forest is predominately private, totaling some 164 million acres. Of the remaining public ownership, 12.8 million acres are National Forest land. Forest Health Protection - Southern Region has a major role in protecting these southern forestlands from insects, diseases and other natural and human stressors. Forest Health Protection works with the following partners: the National Forest System, other federal agencies on other federal lands, Native American tribes, state forestry and agricultural agencies, and other state and federal agencies, institutions, organizations, or individuals involved with forest resource matters.


Forest Health Protection - Southern Region, under the authority of the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 as amended in 1990 by the Farm Bill, provides the following services to its partners:

  • Forest insect and disease management - Conducts surveys to detect and appraise insect infestations and disease conditions, specifies measures to prevent or suppress insect infestations and disease epidemics.
  • Forest health monitoring - Establishes monitoring protocols to determine forest health changes over time.
  • Forest health management - Provides technical assistance and training on methods available to maintain forest health.
  • Pesticide use management - Provides technical assistance on the proper use of pesticides applied to trees, vegetation and forest products.
  • Technology development - Develops technologies, conducts pilot tests of research results and transfers technologies to partners.


The mission of Forest Health Protection - Southern Region is to increase community awareness of forest health issues; and, in cooperation with federal, state and private partners, to provide strategies and methods to protect, improve and restore the health of forest ecosystems in the South.


The vision of Forest Health Protection - Southern Region is successful management of the forested ecosystems of the South so they are viewed as healthy.


The Forest Health Protection - Southern Region staff consists of professional entomologists and plant pathologists; biological technicians; experts in photography, computer applications, and geographical information systems; and support staff.



Forest Health Protection - Southern Region has a role in management of the southern forests in the next ten years and beyond. The strategic goals below address the major forest health problems and the strategies Forest Health Protection - Southern Region will use to respond to these issues.

  1. Prevent introduction of and reduce the impact of non-native invasive species. 

    Issue - A challenge to the health of southern forests is the introduction and establishment of non-native invasive species. These often cause severe damage because natural enemies are absent. Invasive and noxious plants are usually non-native and have ravaged southern forests for decades. Forest Health Protection - Southern Region has authority to work with cooperators to manage noxious plants; the need for this work has been strongly stated by partners.

  • Facilitate international cooperation to prevent introductions
  • Conduct technology development including biological control techniques.
  • Coordinate with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on prevention, suppression and eradication efforts.
  • Participate in cooperative monitoring for specific pests to assess treatment success and spread of infestation.
  • Provide technical assistance on non-native invasive species.
  • Develop protocols for survey, detection, evaluation, suppression and prevention of infestations of non-native invasive species and determine staffing needs for future work in this area.
  1. Reduce the susceptibility (risk) to insect and disease losses on all southern forests including private non-industrial forestlands.

Issue - Many stands are at risk of insect and disease damage because they are aging, overstocked, or contain off-site species. Preventive measures reduce risk and ultimately reduce suppression or eradication costs. Suppression or eradication efforts for pests are necessary until biological control is practical. Forest Health Protection - Southern Region has the mandate to coordinate funding and technical assistance for survey, detection, evaluation, suppression and prevention of forest pests in the South.

Also, the National Research Council found that insect and disease losses are aggravated by three factors:

  1. Fragmentation of forest ownership has increased the number of owners of nonfederal forestland and the individual risk of loss to insects and diseases
  2. Inadequate management by forest landowners has increased the susceptibility of the forest to disease and insect outbreaks.
  3. Introductions of non-native invasive pests with no natural controls has intensified the need for professional assistance. Southern forests are primarily owned by private individuals with little or no technical knowledge of how to prepare a management plan to protect their forestlands against pests.


  • Streamline coordination among partners and landowners to provide optimal early detection and treatment of pest outbreaks.
  • Use Forest Health Monitoring data to advise federal and state officials on regional forest health trends and to guide regional-scale management actions.
  • Work with partners to identify areas that require risk assessment.
  • Provide partners with risk maps and management options to develop management plans for all landowners.
  • Transfer technologies that reduce forest susceptibility to pest damage.
  • Cooperate with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Forests, state forestry and agricultural agencies, other state and federal agencies, and Native American nations to prevent introduction and exportation of and eradicate established non-native invasive species.
  • Collaborate in the National Forest planning process (National Forest System Land Resource Management Planning, Final Rule, 11/9/2000) in three areas:
    • Assist in development of integrated science for sustainable ecosystem management.
    • Provide forest health expertise for broad-scale assessments.
    • Monitoring of pest damage and evaluation of mitigation measures.
  • Work with cooperative forestry in reforestation of private forestlands.
  • Coordinate landowner groups to suppress significant pest infestations.
  1. Lead in developing technology.

    Issue - Change proceeds rapidly in technology, biological control methods, pesticide regulation and application methodology, and other areas crucial to forest health practices. Often advances in technology are not attuned to use in forest pest evaluation or treatment practice. The availability of pesticides for forests, orchards, nurseries, plantations and progeny tests continues to change under new laws, such as the Food Quality Protection Act. The introduction of non-native invasive species often requires novel treatments. Forest Health Protection has to be innovative and adaptive in the transfer of new technology from research and development to operational use.

  • Establish and maintain partnerships with other Forest Service groups such as Forest Service Research, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Missoula Technology Development Center, and state, university and industry groups.
  • Work with partners and customers to fill gaps in knowledge, technology, or treatments.
  • Develop pest modeling and decision support systems as tools for management decisions.
  • Explore all funding sources for technology development.
  • Ensure transfer of technology.


Forest Health Protection - Southern Region will continue to serve its partners in its traditional responsibilities of survey, detection, evaluation, suppression, prevention and technical assistance for insect and disease management. Beyond that, the three strategic goals will guide our efforts to renew and expand our role in protecting and restoring the health of southern forestlands.