Forest health and protection
download as pdf (pdf 46Kb)
The large pine weevil continues to be the most devastating insect pest species in Irish forestry. The impact of the species is primarily seen on restock sites where the adults feeding on the bark of newly established trees can cause very high mortalities, which in turn, can significantly increase establishment costs. Satisfactory protection can be achieved through the application of an insecticide, but attempts to provide protection through physical means have proven to be costly or largely ineffective.
Forest certification requires the reduction in the use of chemicals in forests. This is an extremely challenging situation for forest managers as to date there were few effective means of protecting young trees against pine weevil attack, other than through the use of chemicals. The requirements of certification, however, have given the necessary impetus to find non-chemical means of protection and alternative means of avoiding weevil damage are being investigated. The use of biological control agents in the form of parasitic nematodes is, however, showing promise. Significant progress has been made with the research into the use of these host specific nematodes and is now at the point where large scale field testing is underway. An exciting development is the discovery of an indigenous nematode that appears to be significantly more effective than the non-native species that is currently available for operational use.
The project in this research area is: