Challenges to planted forest health in developing economies

24 Nov 2017

A number of strategies have been proposed to manage the increasing threat of insect pests to non-native plantation forests, but the implementation of these strategies can be especially challenging in developing economies, such as in countries of sub-Saharan Africa. As in other parts of the world, invasions of non-native insect pests in this region are increasing due to increased trade as well as inadequate quarantine regulations and implementation. Some of these invasions result in substantial socio-economic and environmental losses. In addition, new host associations of native insects on the non-native tree hosts continue to occur. Identification of these insect pests is becoming increasingly difficult due to declining taxonomic expertise, and a lack of resources and research capacity hinders the widespread and effective deployment of resistant trees and biological control agents. The necessity to engage with an extremely diverse stakeholder community also complicates implementing management strategies. We propose that a regional strategy is needed for developing regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where limited resources can be optimized and shared risks managed collectively. This strategy should look beyond the standard recommendations and include the development of an inter-regional phytosanitary agency, exploiting new technologies to identify insect pests, and the use of “citizen science” projects. Local capacity is also needed to develop and test trees for pest tolerance and to deploy biological control agents. Ideally, research and capacity development should, at least initially, be concentrated in centres of excellence to reduce costs and optimize efforts.