New research project addresses national priorities in combating the threat of tree diseases

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New diseases are posing significant risks to tree health and plant biosecurity.UK Government Research Councils, DEFRA, Forestry Commission and Scottish Government, are together investing £7M to fund seven new projects to help address threats to UK forests, woods and trees.

Bangor University is a partner in one of these projects in collaboration with the Universities of Stirling and Cambridge and the Forest Research agency. The project titled “Modelling economic impact and strategies to increase resilience against tree disease outbreaks” will address “the protection and enhancement of public benefits, including biodiversity and ecosystem services (…) building resilience in woodlands, and wider landscapes”, which are the key recommendations that have just been made by the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, specifically. It will also make a substantial contribution the Committee’s call for “long-term research and development work that focuses on preparation for future plant health threats in order to ensure an effective response in the UK”.

Bangor University’s role in the project is led by John Healey, Professor of Forest Sciences, who commented:

“The current outbreaks of Phytophthora ramorum on larch trees and ash dieback disease on ash trees are a major threat to forests and woodlands in Wales, and to the role of trees in the wider landscape. It is more than likely that new diseases and pests will continue to arrive and spread threatening more of our tree species and woodland habitats unless we learn how to manage our forests to improve their resistance and recovery from these impacts. In our project we will be developing new approaches that bring together expertise in tree diseases, ecology, forest management, mathematical modelling, and economics. We will be working towards improving ways of dealing with one of the huge challenges faced by society to deal with our rapidly changing planet”.

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