Forest products can carry important pests, such as insects, fungi, and nematodes, that could be potentially transferred through international trade, establish and cause damage and disease, including death of trees in importing countries. For example the projected economic impact to Canada’s forests as result of bioinvasions was estimated in 2006 to be 7.7 to 20 billion per year, without taking into account the dollar value of the ecological impact. This threat has been recognised and numerous requirements and phytosanitary standards are in place to control pest spread. However, some phytosanitary requirements may adversely affect trade. Within this project we assist the Canadian Forest Service and Canadian Food Inspection Agency and we participate in the work of the international bodies by developing test procedures and generating technical data relevant to an array of forest products. The data and discussions are to assure that regulations are based on science and the Canadian wood industry is not unduly penalized.
In 2010-11, we participated in both the development of internationally accepted, economical and environmentally friendly treatment options to sanitize wood and the development of detection/monitoring tools and knowledge of biology, pathways and risks of phytosanitary pests associated with forest products. The International Forestry Quarantine Research Group (IFQRG) is a forum of particular significance. It is an industry/regulator/scientific advisory body to International Plant Protection Convention that is tasked to develop International Standards for Phytosanitary measures (ISPM’s). IFQRG provides a platform for scientists to share information, do joint reviews, give important input into existing and developing phytosanitary standards and issues, and set up collaborative research to address key knowledge gaps. A good example from this year of usefulness of participation at IFQRG was the agreed consensus refuting recent scientific publications indicating that serious quarantine pest (emerald ash borer) survived 56/30 which would have pushed temperature/time for heat treatment to 60/60 or 71/75. These schedules would increase costs as much as 43 cents per pallet (150-175%).
In this particular year there has been a flurry of activities related to phytosanitary issues. Some were continuations of work done in previous years and some were taken on as they occurred and were deemed important. Reports compiled here cover in detail different activities done throughout the year.
An FAO guide to implementation of phytosanitary standards in forestry has been completed by a core group of 15 international scientists with our participation (Report No 1). The guide is to help many stakeholders in Canada and around the world to understand and implement international phytosanitary standards (ISPMs), provide guidance on practices that minimize pest prevalence and spread. This will protect loss of forests and also maintain market access.
A paper criticizing the use of “probit nine” as a standardised guideline relevant to number of replications needed in efficacy trials of new treatments for ISPM-15, has been published (Report No 2) and another paper is in press in the Journal of Economical Entomology. These peer-reviewed papers provide suggestions for alternative approaches. If the ideas presented there are adopted it is expected that they will significantly reduce the costs of developing alternative phytosanitary treatments and encourage their faster approval.
Some efficacy data on pine wood nematode and several fungi using radio frequency (RF) heating and in collaboration with UBC were also collected and published in the European Journal of Wood and Wood Products (Report No 3). These data will support the submission of RF as alternative wood treatment for wood packaging (under ISPM-15). We also completed an efficacy study of microwave (MW) heat treatment against pine wood nematode for a short time (1 min) as an alternative treatment to heating in kilns (56/30), and published it (see Report 4) . The results were also part of a collaborative submission of several countries to IPPC to accept MW treatment as alternative treatment for wood packaging (under ISPM-15). Both MW and RF will provide the industry with additional treatment choices and open the market to large wood products e.g. logs and large dimensional timbers or for chips for biofuels. They may increase the industry’s competitiveness and cut energy consumption compared to other treatments in use (e.g. heat treatment in kilns) and reduce its carbon footprint.
A paper “Phytosanitary risks associated with the global movement of forest products paper” has been jointly written with CFS and CFIA and is published. This paper will be a base for new ISPM standard on wood commodities (Report No 5).
Two presentations and papers on chemical treatments as phytosanitary measures have been prepared and presented (Canadian Wood Preservation Association annual meeting-Report No 6 and IFQRG annual meeting – Report No7). It is hoped that some wood chemical treatments will be recognized internationally as pest safe/pest reducing treatments leading to reduced costs of production and reduced energy consumption by avoiding the need for additional phytosanitary treatment for treated wood.
Finally, detailed information around activities and outcomes relevant to IFQRG annual meeting and core group around the FAO phytosanitary guide are covered in a trip report (Report No 8).