International Year of Plant Health (Part 4): What are we doing about it?

22 July 2020

“The PSHB as an invasive species is relatively new to science, and has only been studied since the outbreaks in California and Israel in the early 2000s, so there are many unanswered questions about this pest. A better understanding of the beetle, it’s fungal associates, and how they interact in their invaded environment is essential to enhance our ability to manage the problem and reduce its impact,” said Dr Trudy Paap.

The research team at FABI, under the leadership of Prof Wilhelm de Beer, is engaging with various government agencies, municipalities and industries to advise on policy and strategy, and to secure funding for research projects.

A healthy tree is lush and green. The work that researchers at FABI do is to ensure that we have healthy trees for a healthy environment, ecosystem, and food supply.

In the process, they have established a research network including academics from seven other universities who will collaborate on various aspects of the PSHB invasion in the different regions.

Projects that are fully funded at present include the monitoring and impact on avocados (Prof Noelani van den Berg), macadamias (Dr Gerda Fourie), pecans (Prof Wilhelm de Beer), botanical gardens (Dr Trudy Paap and Dr Mesfin Gossa), and forestry crops (Dr Trudy Paap and others from the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme).

Ongoing projects that are partially funded include an assessment of the impact of PSHB on native trees and forests in the Southern Cape. This involves Profs Wilhelm de Beer, Francois Roets (Stellenbosch University), and Martin Hill (Rhodes University).

Envisaged projects include an exploration of biological control options and assessments of PSHB’s impact on native forests in KwaZulu-Natal, with funding committed by the Department of Environmental Affairs. In addition, the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality has committed to supporting two projects on the impact and management of PSHB in urban forests. These projects will be launched in 2020.

A healthy tree is lush and green. The work that researchers at FABI do is to ensure that we have healthy trees for a healthy environment, ecosystem, and food supply.