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International Conference on Forest Biosecurity

06 August 2004

Media release - International Conference on Forest Biosecurity in Hanmer Springs (pre-conference release)

“Potentially worse than possums” - Forest biosecurity experts consider invasions by exotic forest pests at international conference

Leading international forest biosecurity experts will meet at an international conference in the South Island mountain resort of Hanmer Springs from next Monday. The conference under the umbrella of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (‘IUFRO’) has attracted over 100 scientists and forest biosecurity experts from throughout the world. Conference participants will discuss the latest research on forest biosecurity and the ecology of forest insect pests.

This is a timely conference as a string of invasions of exotic forest pests pose major threats to the biosecurity and health of our forests. New Zealand has seen the arrival of a large number of serious forest insects over the last few years including the white-spotted tussock moth (Orgyia thyellina), gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), the painted apple moth (Teia anartoides), and the gum leaf skeletoniser moth (Uraba lugens) – all major threats to our unique indigenous forest ecosystems and our $3.5 billion forest industry.

Forest biosecurity has been front-page news throughout the world. A number of high-profile pests such as the 'Asian longhorn beetle' (Anoplophora glabripennis), the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and the horse chestnut leaf-miner (Cameraria ohridella) have invaded several northern hemisphere countries. The Asian longhorn beetle made headlines in the United States following infestations around New York City and Chicago, and it has caused much mortality of urban hardwood trees such as maples. Across entire neighborhoods trees were felled to prevent the further spread of this pest, but this met only with limited success.

Meanwhile, there have been incursions of this pest in Austria and France, and more recently, trees in Toronto, Canada, have been infested. This has led to serious concerns about Canada’s extensive forests of maple and other hardwood trees. The experts meeting in Hanmer Springs share their insights and discuss the latest research on how to prevent such events in future and how to minimise the ecological and economic impact of such invasions.


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