8 December, 2011
Brockerhoff, IUFRO Deputy Coordinator of Division 7 (SCION, New Zealand)
In a provocative
attempt to save the world's forests, a group of 70-plus scientists from
17 countries are asking trade policy makers around the globe to phase out
such international trade in high-risk plants that put forest health at
high risk while offering limited economic benefit.
If the scientists' proposal is implemented, it would mean an end to all
international trade in containerized ornamental plant seedlings and trees
intended as plants for instant landscape planting.
This particular trade segment, the scientists say, is of little benefit
in terms of countries' overall economies but provides easy pathways for
dispersal of tree pests and diseases. The scientists also suggest that
international trade in other plant materials such as wood packaging and
wood chips should be more strictly regulated and scrutinized.
A driving force behind the proposal is an unprecedented rise in the
number of alien diseases and pests emerging in natural and planted
In a supplement to their declaration they have included many examples of
pests and diseases introduced through international trade that have
caused, or are causing, immense economic and environmental damage in countries where they have been newly introduced.
the examples are: the pinewood nematode in Europe and North America; the
emerald ash borer in North America and Russia; and the Sycamore-killing Ceratocystis plantani
fungus in Mediterranean countries.
While the proposal by the scientists may seem a Draconian solution, and
one that flies in the face of prevailing ideas of global free trade,
there is unanimity among the community of forest pathologists about the
devastating consequences of international and long-distance trade in live
plants and some other plant materials.
These concerned scientists point out that current protocols used to
regulate pest and disease dispersal have been largely ineffective and the
only efficient way to reduce these risks is to reduce, and eventually
end, this particular trade.
The forest scientists developed their proposal following a IUFRO meeting
in Spain earlier this year. It is articulated in a document they entitled
The complete Montesclaros Declaration can be found at: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-7/70000/publications/montesclaros-declaration/.
Individuals who wish to express their endorsement can send an email
with contact information (address, etc).