Keeping woodlands in Wales and Ireland healthy

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Spreading the net wide to catch forest pests - and protect the trees of Wales (27-09-2011)

Tree nurserymen, golf course managers and tree officers are amongst the new list of target beneficiaries for a forestry research project which is aimed to reduce the danger from tree pests in Wales.

Scientists working on the IMPACT project are investigating new natural ways of controlling the increasing threat to woodlands as climate change improves conditions for pests.

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

“We have already seen how the pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, and Pythophthora Ramorum are having a devastating effect on our forests,” said IMPACT project leader Professor Hugh Evans of Forest Research in Wales. “And with changing legislation which will restrict the use of insecticides, we are now looking at natural ways of combating the threats, using biological control agents, mainly insect-killing nematodes and fungi. Now we want to engage with practical experts – nurserymen, recreation ground managers
and other professionals – so that they can work alongside us in a mutually beneficial partnership.”

IMPACT is setting up a new stakeholder group to support its work and add valuable experience to the group. Its inaugural meeting is on Tuesday 5 July at Swansea University. More details are available from Prof Evans – Hugh.Evans@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

IMPACT is a consortium of researchers from Forest Research in Wales (Coordinator), National University of Ireland, Maynooth and Swansea University. The new Stakeholder Group will be able to meet the full IMPACT team on 5th July in Swansea.

The project team has particular expertise in pest risk analysis, climate modelling, pest monitoring and pest management employing bacterial, fungal, entomopathogenic nematode and viral microbial control agents.

Initial efforts have concentrated on pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, the most important pest of British and Irish forestry and a major problem in all European countries where felling of conifer plantations is part of forestry practice.

Already, a Hylobius Stakeholder Group (HSG) has been set up by the IMPACT team to specifically consider how research and practice can best be integrated in developing new IPM strategies for this highly damaging pest.

“Two meetings of the HSG have been held and have proved to be an excellent way of enabling practitioners to become part of the research and development process. We would now like to extend this model to other pests, and hope our new target group can become part of that process,” said Prof Evans.


21.06. 2011

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