Keeping woodlands in Wales and Ireland healthy

Press Release

more press releases from IMPACT

Preparing for the 'perfect storm' as plagues of pests and pathogens threaten Ireland and Wales.

A 'perfect storm' is brewing as climate change and booming international trade combine to create an ever increasing threat of plagues of pests across Wales and Ireland. That's the message that will be delivered by top forestry experts at the final conference of the IMPACT - Integrated Management of Pests Addressing Climate Trends - project in Dublin on 7 May.

Already the lethal combination of shipping and changes in the weather has brought killer pests to our shores where they have found ideal conditions to establish and grow. Over the last two years Welsh trees have been under increased attack from non-native pests and pathogens.

Chalara dieback of Ash, Asian Longhorn Beetle on a range of broadleaved tree species, horse chestnut Leaf Miner, Dothistroma needle blight and the fungus-like pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, on larch all have damaging and lethal effects on our trees. Native insects are also responding to a changing and more suitable climate; the biggest killer of them all Hylobius abietis – a large weevil which causes massive damage to Sitka spruce - is developing much faster under a warming climate.

"We have seen unprecedented damage to the trees of Wales in the last two years," said Professor Hugh Evans coordinator of IMPACT, the research project which has been developing new solutions to the threats of climate change and pests on trees. "And although it is a complicated picture, we believe this combination of enormous increases in global trade moving pests around, combined with increasing climate suitability once they arrive have worked together to create the opportunity for a ‘perfect storm’ of new pest outbreaks," he said.

The EU Interreg IVA project anticipated this ‘perfect storm’ in 2010 and the Irish and Welsh team has now developed biological control strategies to add to a tool box of pest management solutions for the future which will be outlined at the IMPACT Final Conference on 7 May 2013 at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

The IMPACT team, led by Forest Research at Aberystwyth in close collaboration with National University of Ireland Maynooth and Swansea University, will be joined by key speakers from Forest Research at Alice Holt, University College Dublin, Irish Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food and the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland.

Biological control integrated into novel monitoring regimes, concentrating especially on microbial control agents – fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasitic nematodes is one of the key developments identified. Taken together, these will reduce or eliminate the need to use synthetic chemical insecticides, providing additional environmental benefits, as well as greater protection for both Irish and Welsh trees and forests.

"This conference provides an ideal opportunity to hear directly from the experts and to be able to talk to them about current and future threats and their potential management," said Professor Evans.

Latest improved climate models, aimed at helping develop strategic controls into the future, will be revealed by NUIM team members Professor John Sweeney and Dr Rodney Teck. And advances in the control of the number one pest of commercial forestry in Ireland and Wales - the pine weevil Hylobius abietis - taking laboratory research on the use of nematodes and fungi for the management into the field with improved environmental benefits will also be announced.


Prof Hugh Evans, Forest Research in Wales:
t:+44 (0)1970621527 m: +44 (0)7917000234
Guy Pargeter, Taliesin Communications:
t:01970 832375 m: +44 (0)7773 954231


IMPACT – Integrated Management of forest Pests Addressing Climate Trends:
This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Ireland - Wales Programme (INTERREG 4A) and part funded by Natural Resources Wales (formerly Forestry Commission Wales). The project, called Integrated Management of forest Pests Addressing Climate Trends – IMPACT - is led by Forest Research in Wales, a research unit launched in 2009 based at Aberystwyth, with the National University of Ireland at Maynooth and Swansea University. It runs for 42 months to 30 June 2013.

Forest Research - Forest Research is the research agency of the Forestry Commission. It is a world leader in the research and development of sustainable forestry and is Britain's principal organisation for forestry and tree related research, with specialists covering topics from managing timber, and protecting woodland from climate change, to tracking new pests and diseases, and examining the social and community benefits of woodland in urban and rural areas.

Forest Research in Wales: The Forest Research in Wales Unit based in Aberystwyth, looks at research opportunities within Wales and elsewhere. Interactions with a wide range of stakeholders, particularly with Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government, are being developed to scope and deliver research and appropriate technology transfer. Links with the research community in Wales, universities and government organisations are also being developed.

Swansea University
Swansea University is a world-class, research-led university situated in stunning parkland overlooking Swansea Bay on the edge of the Gower peninsula, the UK's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Founded in 1920, the University now offers around 500 undergraduate courses and 150 postgraduate courses to more than 13,800 students. Visit

NUIM, Maynooth
NUI Maynooth is renowned for the quality and value of its research and scholarship, for its dedication to excellent teaching, and for providing an outstanding learning environment for its students. The University is home to outstanding academics who have established a strong reputation for research and teaching excellence, and has over 8,000 students. NUI Maynooth has important research strengths in spatial analysis and geocomputation; applied mathematics and applied ICT; biological sciences; historical and cultural traditions, and business innovation. The University looks outward, engaging with industry and the community to better serve students, the region and the country. To find out more visit

Natural Resources Wales
Forestry Commission Wales is now part of Natural Resources Wales, a new body which has taken over the functions previously carried out by Forestry Commission Wales.

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