Keeping track of pests and diseases in small forestsApril, 2010.
New Zealand's forestry depends on good biosecurity and freedom from the harm new pests and diseases can cause. While large forestry companies have systems in place to regularly monitor the health of their forests, smaller forests and farm woodlots often do not. This creates potential havens for forest pests and diseases to establish.
In 2008, the NZ Farm Forestry Association sought to address this risk. The team worked with SPS Biosecurity Ltd to create a database and map of the 512 most small forests in NZ (i.e. forests near ports, airports or industry). This database now means that if a new pest or disease risk incursion occurs, the local forest owners can be identified and contacted.
The project has provided the tools for people to monitor their own forests. Many small woodlots are found on farms where farmers want quick, easy ways to assess their trees. A field guide was created that explains how to survey forests, what to look for and what to do when you find pests and diseases.
By helping forest owners monitor their small forests this project has filled a gap in pest and disease surveillance in NZ forests. This information will be useful to biosecurity authorities, particularly when new pest or disease incursions occur. Now, the next important step is for owners of small forests to use the tools provided and get out there and monitor their forests!
Interested in finding out more? To see a copy of the Guide to Conducting Forest Health Assessments click here.