An international seminar on control strategies for pinewood nematodes (PWN) is to take place from 7-9 October in Lisbon. The event will be attended by around 50 scientific and risk-management PWN experts from across Europe, Asia and North America as well as participants from the European Commission. It is partly funded under the Better Training for Safer Food initiative.
PWN is a harmful organism which lives in conifers and causes wilt diseases. The nematode spreads with the help of forest insects such as long-horn beetles. Wood originating in third countries where PWN is known to occur and imported into the EU must be subjected to appropriate heat treatment.
Within the EU, PWN has only been found in Portugal, where it was first observed in 1999. The seminar is aimed at assisting in development of appropriate policies for containment of PWN to Portugal and improving systems for rapid PWN detection in other Member States.
Protecting European forests
In order to prevent the spread of the nematode and protect European forests, the Commission has ensured the demarcation of areas in Portugal in which PWN is known to occur. Susceptible plants or wood moved out of demarcated areas must be accompanied by a plant passport or identification marking. In June 2008 the Portuguese authorities declared that the entire continental territory of the country fell within the affected zone. Portugal has also launched action plans, reviewed annually, to control and eradicate PWN.
The Commission has empowered other Member States to subject consignments of susceptible wood and plants from demarcated areas to testing for the presence of PWN. In addition, Member States conduct annual surveys to check for PWN infestation on their territory.
Overview of scientific data
The seminar should provide an overview of scientific data on PWN infection, epidemiology, survival in wood and vectoring as well as the implications for eradication and containment. It will also look at the best methods for inspection, sampling and diagnosis of PWN. Analysis of existing PWN management programmes and current Community measures will also be covered.
The event is to comprise a series of sessions which will include presentations, discussions and round tables. These will focus on subjects such as the global impact and management of PWN, lessons from research into PWN containment and eradication and EU emergency measures and their implementation. The seminar will conclude by identifying issues for further discussion within the European Commission' Standing Committee for Plant Health.