Exploring public perception of emerald ash borer management

photograph of a landscape dominated by invasive grasses and surrounded by deciduous trees

Black ash tree stand alongside a cleared area now dominated by grasses

Image credit: "Graminoid dominance in a 4-acre clearcut black ash stand" by Eli Sagor is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Nearly 8% of all the trees in Minnesota are ash species, all of which are threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB). EAB cost managers across the country an estimated $10.7 billion between 2002 and 2019 to treat, remove, and replace more than 17 million ash trees.

Current best management practices include methods like clearcutting or group selection, the selective removal of small groups of trees with or without replanting. When trees are removed, the visual experience of a forest is changed for the public—sometimes to negative reception. 

This project aims to better understand public perceptions of major EAB management approaches by allowing participants to visualize the effects to forest structure through virtual and augmented reality. Participants will experience immersive, 360º views of forests managed by clearcutting or group selection tree removal and be surveyed about their opinions. Researchers will also explore whether education about management methods influences participants’ opinions.

Research questions

  • What is the public acceptability of select EAB management approaches in forested park areas?
  • What are the impacts of additional information on management acceptability and landscape preference on whether the public would want to visit a site?

Practical implications

This research will allow managers to better understand how visitors perceive Minnesota forests that have been managed for EAB, and whether it affects their enjoyment of the site. It will also help to shape education and outreach programs surrounding EAB in the state.




  • Minnesota Urban Forestry Outreach and Research, 2022
  • National Outdoor Recreation Conference, 2022
  • National Natural Areas Conference, 2022
  • Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, 2022
  • International Association Society and Natural Resources Conference, 2022
  • Minnesota Naturalists Association Conference, 2022
  • Minnesota Forestry Review, 2021
  • National Park Service IEP, 2021

Research team

Ingrid Schneider | principal investigator

Marcella Windmuller-Campione | co-investigator

Matt Russell | co-investigator

Angela Gupta | co-investigator

Brett Rannow | MS student


Collaborating organizations

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota Forest Resource Council

National Park Service

City of Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Department