It’s rare to hear that a high number of trees blooming in forests is a bad thing, but that is indeed the case with the increase in beech trees in parts of the northeastern US.
Beech Trees Multiplying is a Bad Thing, Why?
The changes in the types and frequency of precipitation along with rising temperatures over the past 30 years have offered the beech tree a great habitat to thrive in. However, these are now pushing other types of trees out of their way.
As it is, while the beech tree population is growing at an alarming rate, the birch, red maple, and sugar maple population is decreasing at an equally troublesome rate.
There are a lot of reasons for why this increase could spell trouble for America’s forests. Firstly, wood sales from beech trees are not as lucrative as other trees, which hinders profits for loggers.
While beech can be used for firewood, it’s maple or birch trees that are alluring for producing flooring and furniture.
Secondly, these trees are sensitive to the beech bark disease, which kills trees way before they are matured. Older and established specimens are just as susceptible to it.
Also, new trees that grow in after the diseased ones are very likely to pick it up themselves. In doing so, they could succumb to the disease as well. This is usually the start of a rather vicious circle. A very high number, more than 50%, of all affected trees usually die within ten years time.
Aaron Weiskittel, a University of Maine associate professor, who has examined the beech tree invasion stated the following:
“There’s no easy answer to this one. It has a lot of people scratching their heads. Future conditions seem to be favoring the beech, and managers are going to have to find a good solution to fix it.”
A study paper presenting the causes and possible effects is available in the Journal of Applied Ecology.