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Beech Trees Face New Threat


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is warning that Beech Leaf Disease, which affects all species of Beech tree, has been found in 35 counties within the state.

“Many American beech trees are already heavily impacted by beech bark disease, but Beech Leaf Disease appears to be an even bigger threat,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The decline of beech in New York could have far-reaching consequences, including significant changes to the composition of our northern hardwood forests and the loss of a valuable food source for wildlife. Beech Leaf Disease affects all beech, so the impacts would also be felt in our urban forests where ornamental beech trees, including the popular copper beech cultivar, are widely used for landscaping and street trees.”

Not much is known about Beech Leaf Disease, but the disease is known to kill mature beech trees within 6 to 10 years and for saplings as little as 2 years. Currently, there is no treatment available to fight off this disease.

The DEC is working with the Cornell Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, neighboring states, and New York’s Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management to survey beech trees for new infections, track disease progression using long-term monitoring plots, and investigate the nematode’s role in the disease.

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