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Forest biosecurity – New Zealand needs to act locally and globally

August, 2015.

A review of the global state of forest biosecurity highlights the need for countries to cooperate more effectively to prevent the spread of dangerous pests and pathogens.

Scion scientist Eckehard Brockerhoff and colleagues from the University of Pretoria have recently published a review of global forest biosecurity issues and the threat they pose to plantation forests. This review highlights the need for a worldwide effort to manage the threat of introduced insect pests and pathogens establishing themselves in new areas. One of the principal reasons radiata pine performs well in New Zealand is that the plantations are not exposed to the majority of their natural pests – but if more of these pests become established here, this advantage will be lost. The accidental introduction of new pests is also a very serious threat to our indigenous forest species, which have not previously been exposed to a wide range of pests due to the relative isolation of New Zealand.

While the review concludes New Zealand has some of the best biosecurity practices in the world, we are still dependent upon the biosecurity systems of our trading partners, because pest species can use a new country as a stepping stone for further invasions. Therefore, it is important for New Zealand to maintain strong international networks through collaborative organisations such as the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO) and to provide assistance to countries that may not have the resources or expertise to independently establish effective forest biosecurity systems.


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