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  • Author or Editor: Jason Ernest Elvin Dampier x
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Jason Ernest Elvin Dampier, Richard W. Harper, Ashley McElhinney and Eric Biltonen

Chinese hemlock (Tsuga chinensis) exhibits a high level of resistance to the exotic insect hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae) relative to the native and widely planted eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). Furthermore, both chinese and eastern hemlock exhibit similar autecologic and aesthetic characteristics in urban and suburban environments. This study provides a comparative 25-year economic benefit-cost analysis (BCA), tracking estimated establishment and insect control costs for the two tree species. Eastern hemlock survival requires insecticide treatments when growing within the range of HWA. Insect control scenarios used and evaluated in this study include annual horticultural oil spray, biannual horticultural oil spray, biennial imidacloprid soil drench, and no treatment. The chinese hemlock scenario did not include chemical insect control because of the species’ host plant resistance (HPR) to HWA. Benefits were estimated using the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service’s i-Tree tool, which estimates economic benefits for ecosystem services (expressed in dollars). Benefit–cost ratios (BCRs) were developed using the present value for 25-year benefit and cost streams at 2% and 4% discount rates. Payback periods were also estimated for all options that had a calculated BCR greater than one. The benefit–cost analyses for each insect control scenario were evaluated, compared, and assessed through the lens of market potential. The costs exceed the benefits for all of the eastern hemlock scenarios. The benefits exceed costs for the chinese hemlock scenario. Results suggest that chinese hemlock is a viable alternative to eastern hemlock in view of its HPR and reduced associated costs over time. If chinese hemlock becomes more widely planted, it is expected to produce greater BCRs relative to chemical control options as a result of the lack of required, ongoing insect control treatment costs.