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Forest Health, Pests and Diseases

Pest and Disease database for forestry

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This database has so far been put together from the complete archive of Forest Health Newsletter articles, the Forest Timber and Insects leaflets and the Forest Pathology leaflets, along with MPI publications Biosecurity (to issue 103, July 2011), Surveillance (to Volume 40, No. 2 June 2013) along with Treegrower articles and FOA/NZFFA press releases. It is an information resource for forestry in New Zealand.


  • Biosecurity is very important: Wink Sutton's Blog, February 27, 2015
    During my Canadian secondment from 1992 to 1994, I attended a meeting addressed by the then Chief of the USDA Forest Service who talked about the major biological threats to North American…


Biosecurity articles


Tree Grower articles

  • Healthy, productive forests: Fighting past, present and future pathogens (Access: NZFFA membership)
    Michelle Harnett, May 2021
    Science, biosecurity and keen eyes on the ground are working to protect all our forests from new pathogens. Radiata pine makes up more than 90 per cent of the production…
  • New technology for targeted pest detection and control (Access: unrestricted)
    Tara Strand and Harriet Palmer, August 2018
    Most small-scale forest owners spend a good deal of time keeping their fingers crossed that their trees will survive to harvest age. While crossing fingers is about all that can…
  • Forest health update (Access: unrestricted)
    Dean Satchell, February 2012
    Needlecast Needlecast has been quite bad over the past winter on radiata pine with many parts of the North Island affected and even around Nelson in the South Island. It…
  • Practise good forest hygiene if you are travelling overseas (Access: unrestricted)
    Author not published, May 2009
    New Zealand’s exotic forest estate is worth billions of dollars. Last year the NZ Forest Owners Association issued forest hygiene guidelines for members to enlist their cooperation in reducing any risk…


Biosecurity downloads


The importance of biosecurity to forest management

Commercial forestry in New Zealand is largely based upon plantation culture of Pinus radiata. Much of the economic success of this forestry enterprise can be attributed to the fact that these trees are grown in exclusion of the numerous insects and diseases in P. radiata's native range (and elsewhere in the world) that limit its growth and survival. As such, biosecurity, much like genetic improvement, silviculture and fire suppression, represents a critical component to the economic success of forestry in the country. Investment in biosecurity by the forest industry thus is likely to yield tangible economic benefit in the form of exclusion of at least some pests that would otherwise reduce profit from the forestry enterprise.
Without biosecurity, incursions of new pests are likely to occur, though identifying the time, location and identity of invaders would be impossible to forecast. Thus, the return on investment in biosecurity can be reducing the probability of such incursions.
(Extract from the Forest Owners Association Forest Health Surveillance Review, November 2007)

From MAF Biosecurity New Zealand's Strategic Plan

The biosecurity system outcomes, which we have responsibility for delivering, are to:

  • Prevent harmful organisms from crossing New Zealand's borders and establishing, while ensuring trade and tourism are maintained.
  • Reduce the unwanted harm caused by organisms already established in New Zealand, and to
  • Support New Zealanders to be informed and involved participants in the biosecurity system.

It is critical to MAFBNZ's success that everything it does aligns to these outcomes. To achieve them, MAFBNZ works in three separate but interrelated geographic zones: Global, within New Zealand and at Pathways and Borders. MAFBNZ's strategic direction comprise seven goals which will drive our priorities over the next five years; i.e. to:

  1. provide effective leadership across the biosecurity system
  2. make timely and informed decisions
  3. to have more effective interventions at the border
  4. to work collaboratively across organisations for better biosecurity outcomes
  5. to see that everyone takes responsibility for biosecurity risks and interests
  6. identify and prepare for emerging threats and risks
  7. attract and retain the right people

Who pays to stop the invaders?

(Opinion piece By NZFOA executive director David Rhodes, from The New Zealand Forestry Bulletin, Autumn 2008: Source NZFOA)
When it comes to biosecurity, forest owners are unique. We are the only primary industry to have a formal surveillance programme for plant pests and diseases, funded by growers themselves.
However, the programme is not formally linked with other surveillance programmes - despite the close personal contacts we have with MAF Biosecurity staff and biosecurity researchers at Scion. And it doesn't cover small forest blocks, shelter belts or the indigenous estate.
Linking all the biosecurity strands together, as part of a coherent policy applying to all sectors, is therefore vital. This need was identified in the Prime Report for MAF in 2002 and in the NZ Biosecurity Review of 2003.
MAF plans to do this in its new Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy due to be released for stakeholder comment in May.
As part of the development of this strategy, MAF is reviewing who should decide whether an exotic organism is contained or eradicated, and who should pay. These are important questions.
The budget for painted apple moth eradication in Auckland in 2003/04 was more than $51 million - a large sum. But it would have been a fraction of the annual economic cost of controlling the moth in forest plantations if it had got away - quite apart from the destruction it would have wrought in native forests, gardens and parks.
A proposal that MAF Biosecurity should work in partnership with affected sectors in preparing for and dealing with incursions like this is to be applauded. But the suggestion that they should also jointly fund such activities is a more complex issue.
In various policy papers, MAF argues that those who contribute to an incursion ('exacerbators'), if they can be identified, may not have the resources to contribute to the response. This draws the ministry to conclude that "funding from importers seems unfair and inefficient" and that "beneficiaries are better placed to pay than exacerbators".
The NZFOA does not accept that this conclusion is logical. Also, it runs contrary to the polluter-pays principle and sends the wrong signal for influencing behaviour.
Just like trampers and hunters, who have to pay for control costs if their campfires spread to the surrounding forest, importers need to know they will be liable if pests spread from their shipping containers into the surrounding environment.
On a practical level too, an industry battling with a new organism may well have very little ability to pay - especially if leads to the loss of overseas markets, or if yields and quality are severely compromised.
The NZFOA accepts in principle that there can be circumstances where it would be appropriate for an industry to contribute to an incursion response. But...

  • The industry would need to be getting a disproportionately higher benefit than society at large
  • Exacerbators would have been identified and required to pay their share
  • The efforts of the industry to prevent or minimise the impact of an incursion through surveillance, research etc, would have been taken into account
  • Other beneficiaries would be contributing on the same basis. With forestry, we imagine this might occur if an exotic organism arrived in the country unassisted, with effects that were largely restricted to one or two plantation species - a very unusual event.

Because of this, we believe the policy reviews should focus on ensuring that New Zealand has a coherent and integrated biosecurity framework covering surveillance, readiness, response and recovery. It would indeed be unfortunate if this focus was lost in squabbles over 'who pays' in a range of unlikely hypothetical scenarios.


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