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Risk modelling of invasive insects threatening South Africa's forests - Brett Hurley - South Africa

Awarded: NOK 0.10 mill.

Introduced insect pests of trees pose a serious threat to forestry worldwide. This is especially true in South Africa where the increase in the rate of new pest invasions is threatening the sustainability of forestry in the country, a sector of great econ omic importance to numerous South Africans, including resource poor farmers. Examples of recent forest pest introductions that are causing considerable losses to South African forestry include the Sirex woodwasp (Sirex noctilio; detected 1994), the bronze bug (Thaumastocoris peregrinus; 2003) and the eucalyptus gall wasp (Leptocybe invasa; 2007). A particular concern is that the rate of introduction of new invasive pests is increasing while programmes are still being developed to manage the current pests. Mathematical modelling provides an effective tool whereby biological and spread data of insect pests can be used to predict the likelihood of their introduction and establishment, and the economical risks should they establish. Risk modelling requires particular knowledge of forest entomology and skills in the use of mathematical models, including experience with the software available. The Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute possesses both these expertises in the form of Dr Paal Krokene (speciali st in forest entomology) and Dr Bjørn Økland (specialist in risk modelling). Thus, a three month research visit to Skog og landskap is proposed whereby the visiting researcher from South Africa (Dr Brett Hurley, forest entomologist) will develop risk mode ls for potential new invasive pests of South Africa, under the guidance of Dr Økland and Dr Krokene. The skills learnt by Dr Hurley in this visit will contribute substantially to the development of risk analysis research in South Africa, and provide the basis for improved quarantine measures and management plans for interception of invasive pests. The project will also strengthen the existing collaborative relationship between FABI and Skog og landskap.

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