EcoAction Alert

Three new non-native maples proposed for importation from Korea

USDA APHIS is currently accepting public comments on a proposal to import live Acer (maple) species from North Korea. However, we know that importing live plants is the #1 pathway through which damaging forest pests have historically been introduced, and the biggest risk is from importing live plants that are closely related to our native plants. Additionally, the APHIS risk assessment lists 28 pests and diseases that they rate as high or medium risk for introduction via these non-native maple species, and those are just the known pests and diseases. During these comment periods, APHIS hears almost no feedback from stakeholders speaking on behalf of forest health. Please consider taking a moment to provide feedback to APHIS on the risks involved in importing live plant material closely related to native species.

How to submit a comment:

  • Email your comment to PPQPRAcomments@aphis.usda.gov by February 3, 2020.
  • Include "Acer buergerianum Miq., A. palmatum Thunb., and A.pseudosieboldianum Nakai live bunjae” in the subject line.

Additional information:

  • Native Acer species are a critical component of the forests, economy, and culture in the NE US.
  • In FL, we have 5 native Acer taxa.
  • The risk assessment only evaluates the risk of known pests and pathogens, however as we saw with the emerald ash borer, there are additional insect pests and diseases currently unknown to science
  • Link to the Risk Assessment.
  • We know from research (e.g. Lovett et al. 2016), importing live plants is the #1 pathway through which damaging forest pests have historically been introduced, and the biggest risk is from importing live plants that are closely related to our native trees.
  • APHIS’s own pest risk assessment lists 28 pests and diseases that they rate as high (18) or medium (10) risk for introduction via maple bunjae, and those are just the known pests and diseases.
  • Risk is a combination of the likelihood an adverse event will happen and the impact this event will cause (likelihood and consequence). If the likelihood something will arrive or happen is high and the impacts are predicted to also be high, then the risk is much higher and may require rapid action to mitigate that risk.
  • In this case the risk has been identified (multiple plant pests that are very likely to be ecologically and economically costly) and it is our opinion that the risk is too high to justify the importation of these species (it is not feasible to mitigate the risk to an acceptable level with phytosanitary measures). Therefore, we support prohibiting these three species from importation to the US.
  • The PRA only evaluates the risk of known pests and pathogens, however as we saw with the emerald ash borer, there are additional insect pests and diseases currently unknown to science.

Link to our letter we sent to USDA APHIS.