Learn Before You Burn: Protect Florida’s Trees

November 16, 2010

It’s November, and for many Floridians, ‘tis the season for campfires. Florida is home to some of the nation’s most beautiful state and national parks, forests and green spaces. There are opportunities to get in touch with nature and Florida’s natural history all over the state, from the pine forests of the Panhandle to the hammocks of South Florida.

Before you hit the road to experience a new campsite or an old family favorite, we ask that you think ahead about where you are going to purchase your firewood and how to dispose of unused wood.

Almost every month, a new exotic insect, plant or plant pathogen is detected in Florida, and the unregulated movement of firewood and other unprocessed wood products create major pathways into the state for harmful pests and diseases. It costs millions of dollars to try and eradicate these pests, not to mention the tremendous loss of so many life sustaining trees.

 Many states are battling infestations from wood-boring insects and tree diseases. Florida is battling laurel wilt disease, a destructive disease of redbay, avocado and other trees in the laurel family. The disease, caused by a fungus (Raffaelea lauricola) carried into trees by the non-native redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus), was first detected in the U.S. near Savannah, Ga., in 2002, and subsequently found in Duval County, Fla., in 2005. Laurel wilt has caused high levels of mortality in redbay trees in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and has affected several other hosts including sassafras and avocado.

To help protect Florida’s forests and trees, the most important and easiest action you can take is to not move firewood. Make sure to use local sources of firewood, and please do not take any local firewood home from campgrounds. If you have already brought firewood from home, do not take it back home and do not leave it—burn it!

For more information, check out our video on burning local firewood.

Questions or comments can be sent to dpi-blog@doacs.state.fl.us

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