Keeping woodlands in Wales and Ireland healthy


Forest Pests (20-03-2011)

Forest pests - new threat to Irish woodlands from climate change

The large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) – the single most important insect pest of plantation forestry in Europe – is on the march, helped by the affects of Climate Change.

So far Ireland has escaped the worst of the new invasions of all kinds of pests which are devastating huge areas of forest from Slovakia to Wales. And now scientists from the IMPACT project at NUI Maynooth are looking at the latest ways to make sure the woodlands of Ireland are protected.

All the latest information on the pest problems facing forestry – and the preventative and control measures that can be taken – are being spotlighted at a symposium - Insect Pests of Trees: Meeting Future Challenges – at the University on Monday 24 January.

The event is organised by the IMPACT project (Integrated Management of forest Pests Addressing Climate Trends) co-funded by COFORD, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A) and Forestry Commission Wales.

The IMPACT team, which also includes specialists from Forest Research and
Swansea University is assessing just how changing climate will influence the damage caused by pests and pathogens.

“The increasing extremes in our weather – cold, increased rainfall and flooding, a general raising of temperature – are creating the ideal conditions for forest pests,” said Dr Hugh Evans, co-ordinator of the IMPACT project and
Head of Forest Research in Wales.

“Just like humans, when trees are put under stress through lack of water, drought or extreme cold, their defences are weakened – which allows pests like the pine weevil or p.ramorum to gain a strong foothold.”

Latest control measures of the large pine weevil – which can reduce its impact by 40 per cent – emerging pests, bio control of soil pests and other issues will be on the agenda for the day.

The focus will be on biological control integrated into novel monitoring regimes, concentrating especially on microbial control agents – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasitic nematodes.

The IMPACT partnership already has a strong track record in use of these agents and expects to deliver improved technology to farmers and landowners whose trees are at risk from pest infestations.

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