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IUFRO International Forest Biosecurity Conference

The International Union of Forest Research Organization (IUFRO) International Biosecurity Conference 2009 was held in Rotorua, New Zealand, bringing together forest entomologists, pathologists and vegetation management scientists, forest managers and policy makers. Over 90 speakers (including students, scientists and managers) came to share their research and participate in open forums and discussions.


My attendance at the conference was for the promotion of the Plant Biosecurity Toolbox. Although this conference was targeted at forest biosecurity the main focus was biosecurity, using forestry examples, so there were many themes applicable to many scientific disciplines.


For me, the highlight of the conference was Tuesday's Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development workshop titled ‘Managing the Biosecurity threat to forests in a changing global environment: links between science, policy, regulation and management'. This workshop focused on the movement of trade around the world and the risks imposed on biosecurity. Alien organisms are quickly and continuously moving around the world so it is important our biosecurity keeps up with the endlessly shifting challenges.


Dr Hugh Evans (Forest Research, Wales) discussed Pest Risk Analyses versus Pathway Risk Analyses. Pest Risk Analyses assess risks of incursion, and are usually carried out by the receiving country, often after a new arrival. He proposed, we ‘manage once and remove many' by managing the pathway rather than the individual pest species. This suggests the need for a more generic approach to risk mitigation of high risk pathways. The IUFRO Alien Invasive species working party suggested focusing regulation and management on pathways, rather than known and named individual pests. This entails much more emphasis on detecting pests at the origin of the pathways, coupled with better understanding of what potential pests and pathogens might already occur there.


The afternoon session of the workshop was designed as an open forum. The leading questions were:


  • How can scientists be more effective in their contributions to policy and operational management?
  • In a changing global environment, what are the important future forest biosecurity challenges from both a science and policy perspective?
  • How can international collaboration help to meet these challenges?


A very interesting discussion followed each of these questions with the audience coming from many and varied backgrounds. I found it interesting seeing situations from various and often opposing viewpoints; the scientist and the policy maker.


The remainder of the conference covered various aspects of quarantine, vegetation management, pest detection, diagnosis and surveillance. It was great to see some outstanding student presentations and novel research.


I found the conference to be very beneficial, informative and enjoyable.


When: March 2009
Location: Rotorua, New Zealand
Mrs Amy Carmichael recently attended the IUFRO International Forest Biosecurity Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand.