Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) Workpackage

Sitka spruce is by far the most economically important species in Irish forestry, so any new disease or pest could have a devastating effect on the forest industry in Ireland. The ability to predict and pre-empt future threats is essential to protecting Ireland’s forest estate which includes the potential effects of climate change Under the EU Plant Health Directive (Council Directive 2000/29/EC), Ireland has been granted “protected zone status” for thirteen harmful forest pests and diseases, with oak processionary moth and pine wood nematode soon to be added. This has considerable benefits to the forestry sector directly. However, maintenance of protected zone status is dependent on effective PRA and monitoring. The use of PRA will help identify the threats, thus helping Ireland to develop strategies to prevent the degeneration of Irish forests as a result of these emerging pests and pathogens, for example using increased bio-security and phytosanitary measures, with immediate impact, while the full impact of the research will likely be realised through the future (long-term impact) sustainable growth of the Irish forest estate.

Different modelling techniques are applied within the FORM project to aid in the identification of high risk pests to Irish forestry under both current and future climates. Global pest data is being analysed using machine learning techniques to identify high risk pests for Irish forestry, which can help to prioritise species for PRA. The establishment and spread of alien pest species is being assessed using bioclimatic envelope mapping in conjunction with spread models based on the life-history of selected pest species. In addition, current climate data is being employed, along with future climate simulations to assess how the suitability of Irish stands for pest species might change under a warming climate.

Fabio Stergulc, Università di Udine, Bugwood.org

Great spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus micans): serious pest of spruce, Ireland has a protected zone, widespread in rest of Europe. This image nicely shows the larvae under the bark.

William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

Spruce broom rust, a North American fungal disease of spruce regulated by the EU.

Edward H. Holsten, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Spruce bud scale.

William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org

Defoliation by Western Spruce budworm.