Integrated Pest Management

It is only when an organism affects the forest in a way that is detrimental – to timber productivity or the ecological balance of a natural area, for example – that it becomes classified as a pest, disease or weed.

Pest control is one of the most challenging aspects of modern commercial forestry. The control of pest species is a delicate and intricate balancing act between:

  • preventing, or minimising, the outbreak of pests, diseases, weeds or invasive species; and
  • reducing the environmental, social and economic costs associated with pest control.

In addition, there are the constraints of local, national and international legislation and compliance with certification requirements.

This makes pest control one of the most challenging aspects of today’s commercial forestry.

The days of considering only chemical control measures are gone, chemical control is now a last resort and is always done in the wider context of integrated pest management (IPM).

IPM “involves the consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimise the risk to human health and the environment.” – FAO (LINK: www.fao.org/forestry/pest/93386/en/)

The IPM approach advocates the conscious decision to “take no action”, when appropriate, and the need to consider the impacts that may arise both from the pest, disease or weed itself, as well as from any control measures that might be adopted to manage the problem.

The challenge for plantation managers is to find the balance between taking no action and implementing pest control measures. This requires a comprehensive understanding of:

  • the pest, pathogen, weed or invasive;
  • the control methods available to them;
  • the economic, environmental and social costs associated with the pest, disease or weed;
  • the economic, environmental and social costs associated with the control measures; and
  • the threshold level where action becomes required.

IPM provides the framework in which to do this. It should be noted that while the IPM framework is generic, putting it into practice is country- and even region-specific: “What might prove to be an effective approach in one particular country or region will not necessarily be appropriate or practical in another due to variations in climate, geology, flora, fauna and societies.” – FSC® guide to integrated pest, disease and weed management in FSC® certified forests and plantations.