Group Investigates and Promotes Awareness of Pest Threats to Forests

A team of interdisciplinary researchers has formed The Emerging Threats to Forest Research Team “to advance knowledge of the biology, impacts and management of emerging pests and diseases of forests. This knowledge will enable policymakers, land managers and agencies make proactive decisions and to reduce impacts of these threats.” The group grew out of collaborative research work between academics in different disciplines at the University of Florida, who decided to formalize their relationship last year by naming their group and creating a website to provide information about their mission and current work.

The team includes experts from entomology, pathology, dendrology, economics and law. They pursue research on management of invasive forest pests at local, regional and global scales, and provide diagnostic services for forest managers and owners. They also engage with the broader community by organizing educational events and sharing the results of their research through media. Jiri Hulcr, an Entomologist at the University of Florida and member of the Research Team said, “One piece that we are really proud of is our increasing amount of communication with higher level decision-makers in state and federal governmental bodies.” The research team hopes to create awareness about invasive forest pests and diseases that, without support from local communities and higher level decision-makers, could wreak havoc on economies and ecosystems.

The Research Team hosted the Conference on Laurel Wilt Disease and Natural Ecosystems from June 16-18 in Coral Springs, Florida. Over 90 individuals participated including forest managers and service providers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, academics and media. A field trip into the Florida Everglades kicked off the conference, led by another Research Team member, Jason Smith, also of University of Florida. NBC 6 of South Florida, a regional news station, attended and aired a report on the transmission and impacts of the Laurel Wilt disease. “Lots of people are worried about this disease and impacted by it, but there is really no voice for the issue. With the conference we aimed to create awareness so that those higher up know about it and pay attention to this important problem,” reported Hulcr.

From the June IPM Voice Newsletter.

Go to IPM Voice

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