Emerald ash borer larvae feed on the cells of the tree's nutrient and water transport systems. Eventually, water and nutrients no longer flow to the tips of the branches, and the tree dies. For their risk analysis, Leung and colleagues drew on a study of the "Effectiveness of the International Phytosanitary Standard ISPM No. 15 on reducing wood borer infestation rates in wood packaging material entering the United States," published last week in the journal PLoS ONE by coauthor Robert Haack (press release), that found that implementation of ISPM15 treatment standards reduced wood borer infestation rates by up to 52%.
"Here we're just talking about economic costs. These analyses have not incorporated the non-market, or ecological, values of the trees, so the benefits are even greater than our calculations," said Leung.
Although preventative treatment is not 100% effective and the up-font cost is high, Leung and colleagues estimate that the economic benefits of slowing the introduction of wood boring insect pests will accumulate a net benefit of $11.7 billion, taking into account benefits minus costs through 2050. They project annual benefits to exceed costs by 2016, and cumulative net benefits to be in the black by 2024.
ISPM15, implemented in the United States beginning in 2005-6, requires that all wood packaging materials of greater than 6 millimeters thickness shipped between 70 signatory countries be debarked and then heated or fumigated with methyl bromide. A stamped
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Ecological Society of America