FAO outdoors new guidebook to control 35 million hectares of forest destroyed by pests yearly

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on November 10, 2011 launched a new guidebook aiming to help countries prevent forest-damaging pests from spreading to new areas.

According to the UN agency, at least 35 million hectares of forest are damaged by outbreaks of forest insect pests each year even though between 1992 and 2008, the volume of wood products traded internationally surged by 125%.

The guide titled “Guide to implementation of phytosanitary standards in forestry” was authored by an international group of 100 scientists and phytosanitary experts from 46 countries.

FAO says it is intended for policy-makers, planners, managers and educators as well as forest workers who implement policies at the ground level. The guide was presented at the Second Asia-Pacific Forestry Week in Beijing last week.

“Due to climate change, previously inhospitable sites can become suitable for ‘alien’ pests that are accidentally transported through international trade in wood products, seeds or nursery plants — as well as trade in other commodities packaged with wood materials,” said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Forestry.

“The guide provides suggestions on how to reduce the risk of pest spread and to implement effective pest management strategies at every step of the forest commodities chain,” he added

The guide is currently available in four languages: Chinese, English, French, and Russian. The FAO says Spanish and Arabic versions are expected to be published next year 2012.

The FAO and its partners are now focusing on strengthening country capacity to implement the guide, the agency said in a statement.

By Ekow Quandzie

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