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.
- 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?
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.
- What Really Works? Testing Augmented and Virtual Reality Messaging in Terrestrial Invasive Species Management Communications to Impact Visitor Preferences and Deter Visitor Displacement (Environmental Management, 2023)
- Modeling impacts of bark beetle infestations on forest visitor experiences and intended displacement (Forest Science, 2019)
- Visitor preferences for visual changes in bark beetle-impacted forest recreation settings in the United States and Germany (Environmental Management, 2017)
- Emerald ash borer impacts on visual preferences for urban forest recreation settings (Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 2017)
- 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