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FOrest REsilience MOdelling Disease

Overview and Objectives

Heterobasidion annosum

Context: Forests in the UK are facing increasing pressures from pests and pathogens as the Task Force report to DEFRA shows. An increase in the volume and global scale of trade, coupled with evolution and adaptation of pests, in the context of global change has led to invasive species appearing in the UK at an increasing rate. Thus, the issue is not so much whether a new epidemic will emerge in the next few years, but when and how it will happen.

Aim: To construct a new generation of models built upon an integration of epidemiological, ecological and economic factors that together determine the resilience of forest systems to incursions by infectious agents, and the supply of forest ecosystem services. In this project we focus on four diseases

Phytophthora ramorum on larch in the South of Scotland by kind permission of Steve Hendry (FR).

Research Questions: This research project will provide answers to seven key questions

  1. How can we model the trade-offs between economic returns, ecosystem service provision and resistance against disease within a forest?
  2. How can we model the impact of various management options in the context of resilience and resistance of forest ecosystems to pathogen invasion?
  3. How does individual land manager choice of management strategies interact with economic, ecological and epidemiological factors to determine the level of disease risk in a forest?
  4. How does the spatial interaction of multiple land managers interact with these factors to determine disease spread in a landscape?
  5. What is the role of uncertainty over pathogen spread and emergence in shaping the decisions of land managers?
  6. What are the UK public, and the UK and local governments willing to pay for actions to reduce the damages associated with tree diseases?
  7. Which public policy actions against disease risk pass a cost-benefit test?

Choice Experiment: A part of the project is a choice experiment that aims at understanding the views of forest and woodland managers and owners about different disease control methods and options for funding such controls. We invite forestry professionals to take part in the experiment and share their views and feedback on the topic. All answers will remain anonymous, and the analysis will concentrate on average tendencies only. In the experiment, participants are offered several choice cards with a menu of hypothetical contracts in a future "forest disease management scheme", and are asked to select the most attractive option in each card. In principle such a scheme could be introduced in the UK for actions which go beyond current requirements for pest and disease management. The contracts are formulated in terms of

For further explanations and a preview of the choice experiment are available online.

Team roles: The FOREMOD team is mapped as follows:

FOREMOD project team.

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