Forest pest management strategies

Phytosanitary measures

The movement of insects and diseases has been facilitated by increased long-range air travel and reduced travel time, international trade of agricultural and forest products, and the international exchange of plant material. Invasive species can be extremely destructive and have had damaging effects in both the developed and the developing world. This issue together with invasiveness of tree species, breeding for insect and disease resistance, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and introduction of new genotypes is being addressed under the umbrella of Biosecurity in Forestry.

Forest protection is an integral part of sustainable forest management. Good management including the use of appropriate species and provenances to meet prevailing environmental conditions and end use requirements, and planting materials of optimal physiological and genetic quality, coupled with good silviculture, is the key to a healthy forest. The best line of defence in forest protection is prevention of pest introduction and spread through international and national phytosanitary legislation. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), deposited with FAO, is an international multilateral treaty for cooperation in plant protection. The purpose of the IPPC is to secure common and effective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products and to promote appropriate measures for their control. As of June 2013, 179 countries were contracting parties to the convention. More than 30 International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) have been endorsed through this system and are now legally binding standards.

ISPMs provide guidance that is broadly applicable for forest health, monitoring, the safe transfer of germplasm, and trade in forest products. FAO has prepared a written guide, Guide to implementation of phytosanitary standards in forestry, to clarify how these ISPMs apply to forestry.

Some insect pests of quarantine status (left to right): Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar); Siberian silk moth (Dendrolimus sibiricus); Asian longhorned beetles (Anoplophora glabripennis) (Credit (L-R): Bugwood.org/J. Ghent/1241013; Bugwood.org/J. Ghent/1241016; G. Allard)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Despite international and national phytosanitary measures and information exchange, pests still continue to move between and within countries and given suitable climatic conditions and the absence of indigenous natural enemies, are quick to establish. Monitoring and survelliance is thus important to ensure that new incursions are discovered before extensive damage occurs, and to provide data to support decisions on appropriate tactics of control once a problem has been detected.

Integrated pest management (IPM) involves consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms. The International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides is the worldwide guidance document on pesticide management for all public and private entities engaged in, or associated with, the distribution and use of pesticides. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the forest management certification system that promotes the responsible management of the world's forests and prohibits the use of highly hazardous pesticides.

The use of IPM implies that pest management programmes are designed as an integral part of forest management, including both prevention and control strategies. Emphasis is placed on understanding the underlying causes of outbreaks, on pest monitoring, on the use of selection and tree breeding for resistance and on the maintenance or gradual improvement of the overall health of forests, rather than on controlling pests once they have become a problem. 

last updated:  Monday, June 24, 2013