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Region’s countries unite to combat forest invasive species

With its spotted black body and zebra-striped antennae, the Asian long-horned beetle is not unattractive as insects go. But don’t be fooled: this little bug has the power to kill trees, devastate forests, and even damage logs and boards destined for commercial markets.

At an international meeting opening here today, representatives from 29 countries of Europe and Central Asia will tackle the shared problem of “forest invasive species.” Organizing the event and providing technical support is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with Belarus’s Ministry of Forestry hosting.

“What we are seeing is an increased threat to trees – and not only within forests – as a result of climatic changes,” said FAO forestry officer Norbert Winkler-Rathonyi. “Warmer temperatures and other changes are influencing the movement and establishment of new insect pests and diseases.”

Not only insects pose a threat. Countries across the region are coping with invasive plants, fungi, and even vertebrate species.

The objective of this week’s two-day meeting is to set up a network of concerned experts and decision-makers across the countries of Europe and Central Asia. Such networks are already working in other parts of the world to raise awareness of forest invasive species, develop databases, enable the exchange of information among countries, strengthen national capacities to manage forest pests, and provide decision-makers with baseline data for making informed decisions.

Countries sending representatives to the Minsk meeting are: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

At the request of member countries, FAO has already assisted with the establishment of similar networks and working groups in Asia and the Pacific, Africa, the Near East and South Cone countries.

6 September 2016, Minsk, Belarus

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