Research calls for new diagnostic tools to manage emerging woodland threats

by | Jun 20, 2023 | Featured Slider, News, Pests and diseases

New research from the HOlistic Management of Emerging Forest Pests and Diseases (HOMED) project found that more resources are needed to guarantee those involved in woodland management to enable the identification of new and ongoing threats to tree health.

The number of documented emerging and invasive tree pests and pathogens (PnPs) is increasing in quantity and range, impacting biodiversity, multi-level tree service management groups, ecosystems and public health in both rural and urban settings.

The HOMED project whose research team includes Coventry University, the RHS and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International surveyed 237 woodland stakeholders across Europe from a diversified range of woodland stakeholders, including researchers, forest owners, managers and authorities, nurseries and policy-makers.

The broad sectoral impact radius of the PnPs emphasises ‘the need to involve these groups also in their prevention and management’ says the HOMED project.

‘One of the first steps in this process is the understanding of stakeholder perceptions and suggestions for management solutions.’

Respondents were surveyed on 18 new, emerging PnPs in Europe, with an additional 37 pest species and 21 pathogen species noted as potential future threats.

Dr Jassy Drakulic, RHS plant pathologist says: “Our findings highlight the importance of raising awareness of plant health issues and working together across sectors and countries to manage pest and disease threats to our trees. Stakeholders emphasised the need for the development of quick and effective methods to detect and report woodland health problems, so this research will also help ensure novel tools are tailored to their needs.” 

The RHS is also currently asking the public to help monitor sweet chestnut trees for two threats, the oriental chestnut gall wasp (OCGW) and chestnut blight, both of which are spreading throughout Europe.