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Inventory of Hemlock Populations in South Cumberland State Park in Advance of the Wooly Adelgid Invasion

One of the most pressing problems faced by the State Park Systems in Tennessee in recent years has been the invasion of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, a small insect that attacks eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis).  South Cumberland State Park on the Cumberland Plateau is near the southernmost extent of the eastern Hemlock’s range and contains large areas of old-growth hemlock forest within its coves. Although treatment options are available, costs can become prohibitory given the large number of trees that may be protected. In order to determine the best course of action for dealing with the spread and impact of the adelgid, the Parks had to first assess the distribution and abundance of the Hemlocks. 

As part of our work with the Landscape Analysis Lab (LAL), Nick Hollingshead at Sewanee developed a geographic information system (GIS) using high resolution aerial photography to identify and map Hemlocks which are often located in remote and inaccessible areas of the Parks. Our data have been used to support the development of a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid treatment and control plan by the State Parks in an effort to save these forest giants for future generations.

Media Coverage:​

  • Chattanooga Times Free Press (Dec. 7, 2009):  "Daunting threat to save timber."  by Pam Sohn.

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