Vulnerability and adaptive capacity in response to the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Invasive species pose a significant threat to communities and ecosystems around the world affecting social, political and ecological conditions. The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is one such pest that has affected parts of North America, including central Massachusetts. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) felled more than 30,000 trees there as part of an ongoing eradication effort. In this paper, we draw on relational place-making theories to consider multi-scalar social vulnerability, and livelihoods frameworks to assess the social, political, and ecological factors that contributed to vulnerability and responding adaptations in Worcester, MA. Interviews with stakeholders identified vulnerabilities and emerging policy - including a new non-governmental organization - that has increased resilience, despite some institutional weaknesses in the capacities of the local government. Future research will explore ways to institutionalize long-term tree stewardship at the municipal level, and the socio-spatial impacts of emerging policies.