Coming Spruce Budworm Outbreak
Initial Risk Assessment and Preparation & Response Recommendations for Maine’s Forestry Community
The eastern spruce budworm (SBW), which returns every 30–60 years in a natural cycle, has been a part of Maine’s spruce-fir forest for thousands of years. Despite being a natural part of the forest, the SBW can be devastating to the health of spruce-fir stands as well as to the wildlife and people that depend on them.
The last outbreak during the 1970s–80s killed millions of acres of spruce-fir stands, cost the state’s economy hundreds of millions of dollars, and helped “set the stage” for political conflict over Maine’s forestry practices during the decades that followed. The current outbreak has caused severe defoliation to more than 15 million acres of spruce-fir forest in Quebec and is growing. Insect traps in northern Maine and New Brunswick have captured steadily increasing SBW moth counts over the past several years, and defoliation of spruce-fir stands is approaching Maine’s northern border.
To prepare for the coming outbreak, leaders from the University of Maine’s Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, Maine Forest Service, and Maine Forest Products Council formed a joint SBW Task Force with leading experts on the SBW and various aspects of Maine’s forest resource to address key aspects of the coming outbreak:
• Wood supply & economic impacts
• Monitoring & protection
• Forest management
• Policy, regulation, & funding
• Wildlife habitat
• Public communications & outreach
• Research priorities
The full report describes the complete findings of the SBW Task Force, and includes an initial risk assessment for the coming SBW outbreak and makes key recommendations for how Maine’s forestry community can begin preparing for and responding to the coming outbreak.