Keeping woodlands in Wales and Ireland healthy

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Climate change and forest pests – scientists reveal solutions (22-08-2012)

The Impact project at the Royal Welsh Show 2012

The Impact project at the Royal Welsh Show 2012

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At the Royal Welsh Show, 2012, the IMPACT project (Integrated Management of Forest Pests addressing Climate Change) revealed new ways of tackling the threats.
Insect pests are an ever increasing problem for Welsh tree growers as the changing climate provides perfect conditions for the spread of disease. Pests such as the pine weevil, Hylobius abietis and its close relative the vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus, are already causing major damage and the effects are expected to get worse under climate change.

At the Show on Tuesday 24 July the IMPACT project (Integrated Management of Forest Pests addressing Climate Change) - which looks at tree pests and climate change – revealed new ways of tackling the threats at the Confor marquee in the Forestry Section.

“In the past we have focused on the individual pest,” said Professor Hugh Evans who leads IMPACT, which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A), COFORD and Forestry Commission Wales.

“There needs to be a mind set shift so that we manage the whole tree growing process, even at the forest scale, taking into account the many variables that can affect the way we anticipate and manage pests.”

The IMPACT team, which includes specialists from Forest Research in Wales, National University of Ireland, Maynooth and Swansea University, is looking at every component of the forest management process.

And Professor Evans and his team detailed results of latest research work in the Welsh forests at the Royal Welsh Show, including the use of a lethal cocktail of microscopic nematode worms and fungi that can help win the fight against Hylobius abietis naturally.

Presentations also looked at international pest risk assessment and risk reduction, through EU PERMIT COST Action, and our work on pine wood nematode with the REPHRAME project.

Linkages with the Dyfi Catchment and Woodland Research Platform as a new initiative in Wales, with emphasis on woodlands and their interaction with the environment, including Ecosystem Services was also discussed.

“Decisions taken today need to account for future pest threats and this is where the climate change modelling from the Maynooth team is being linked to the pest management expertise here in Wales,” Professor Evans said.

Already research work is delivering results on use of natural methods of control – nematodes and fungi – to link to population trends of pests under different climates.

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