Precision Pest Management (PPM) in Forest Ecosystems
With continued growth in human populations, the significance of ecosystem services provided by forests will increase. Native and non-native insect pests and pathogens are one of the most common disturbances that threaten the health of forest ecosystems globally. The frequency and intensity of these disturbances will continue to increase with increasing globalisation and changing climate. Pest management in forest ecosystems is inherently more complex than agricultural ecosystems, in part, due to the spatial and temporal scales involved. In addition, forest ecosystems are comparatively more variable ecologically than agroecosystems. As a result, the development and implementation of pest management tactics in forest ecosystems is less advanced than in agroecosystems. There are numerous new and emerging technologies that allow for novel opportunities and greater precision in forest pest management. These include genomic and chemical analyses, data collection through smart technologies, sensing technologies for surveillance and integration, analysis and sharing of data across fields. These technologies allow for the development of much more accurate tools for pest management than has ever before been possible, and have led to the emergence of an approach defined as Precision Pest Management (PPM) (Slippers et al. 2020)1. This approach allows for more rapid development of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools, as well as the ability for early recognition and response to changes in pest population densities and distributions. The development and incorporation of these and similar technologies into agricultural systems is widely referred to as the fourth agricultural revolution.
The primary objectives of this Task Force will be to explore and develop the concept of PPM across the continuum of forest ecosystems (e.g., natural, planted, urban forests). In addition, capacity in PPM varies geographically and within regions among groups. The Task Force will serve as a platform to:
- attempt to mitigate variation in capacity by connecting researchers and practitioners working on pest management in forest ecosystems;
- identify barriers to inclusivity in PPM; and
- mentor early career researchers, providing them with opportunities to develop skills, networks and to engage with IUFRO.
The Task Force will also collaborate with WP 7.03.15 and the CFS Policy Integration Branch to identify social, behavioral and cultural barriers to the development and implementation of PPM and to consider steps to mitigate these barriers. A complementary objective of these interactions with WP 7.03.15 and the CFS Policy Integration Branch will be to explore how social dimensions influence exchange between operational stakeholders, policy makers and researchers.