Forests are the highest ranked land cover type in Europe. Numbering at around 40% of the total land area, they provide numerous goods and services of benefit to people. These include, not only marketed products such as wood, but also ecosystem services of great value from an ecological, political, social and cultural perspective. Among the latter are water resource management, preservation of biodiversity, climate change mitigation, recreation and health benefits, cultural heritage and protection from soil erosion.
In the last decades, a growing list of introduced non-native pests and pathogens (PnPs) have been causing dramatic losses to European trees and forests. Most of these devastating PnPs, e.g. chestnut blight, ash dieback, Asian long-horned beetle and western conifer seed bug, were harmless or even unknown in their region of origin. The exponential rates of introduction and establishment of non-native PnPs in Europe are clearly linked to increasing global trade.
- At a scientific level, HOMED will:
- Improve the understanding of species traits and population demographic features that drive forest PnPs emergence or invasion
- Create a new generation of semi-mechanistic models to provide quantitative and spatialized predictions on PnPs introduction, establishment and spread
- Develop a generic framework for economic assessment of PnPs risk mitigation options
- Enhance knowledge on natural regulation of invasive tree or forest PnPs, e.g. control by native natural enemies
- Identify key criteria and provide benchmarks for the selection of best options for eradication, containment and control of emerging or invasive PnPs
- At a technological level, HOMED will:
- Develop a generic method based on next generation sequencing (NGS) data to rapidly identify genetic markers for any new threatening PnPs species
- Create new devices for ground detection and surveillance, e.g. multi-sensors, new trapping systems, sentinel nurseries and plantations
- Develop an artificial intelligence tool to analyse images of PnPs symptoms on trees sent by professionals and citizens through a smartphone application
- Conduct remote sensing strategies, methods and tools (e.g. unmanned aerial vehicles) for early detection, surveillance and delimitation of affected areas by PnPs
- Develop integrated PnPs eradication strategies based on environmentally friendly control methods like mating disruption and push & pull measures
- Design advanced classical and conservation biological control methods for the management of emerging and invasive PnPs populations
- Establish a ‘see and spray’ method of PnPs control at an individual tree level by combining multi-sensors, algorithms of decision making and sprayers of biopesticides
- At a risk management level, HOMED will:
- Co-design with forest actors, tools, guidelines and recommendations for the prevention, detection, diagnosis, eradication and control of new PnPs
- Develop a generic Decision Support System, illustrated with representative model case studies, aimed at forest stakeholders to make the most appropriate response during the invasion and emergence processes, based on critical indicators and risk analysis
- Create a multi-criteria decision support web interface for choosing the best options for the eradication, containment or control of emerging and invasive PnPs
-WP1: Forest stakeholder engagement
The objective of WP1 is to organise the multi-actor approach during the development and management of the project. More specifically, WP1 will organise a bi-directional flow of information between stakeholders and scientists, in order to better identify the needs of actors in charge of tree and forest protection against emerging and invasive biotic threats. The work package will evaluate the new tools developed by the project to meet these needs, based on cost-effectiveness criteria.
+WP2: Comprehensive risk analysis
WP2 aims to develop a generic and comprehensive modelling framework to assess the risk of emergence or invasion of forest pests and pathogens and the effectiveness of risk management options. It will identify key drivers of species emergence and invasion and develop a new generation of generic models, easy to parameterise, to quantify the likelihood of entry, establishment, spread, emergence and impact. The work package will also simulate risk management options and explore their effectiveness in relation with innovative tools.
+WP3: Prevention detection tools
WP3 will focus on prevention and preparedness, i.e. knowledge and tools to be used before (or shortly after) the ‘introduction’ of the invader. This includes the rapid detection and identification of native emerging or non-native invasive forest pests and pathogens, recommendations and innovative tools for the reinforcement of border biosecurity, using cutting edge technologies and the participation of the larger public.
+WP4: Surveillance delimitation tools
The goal of WP4 is to improve the surveillance and delimitation of emerging or invasive forest pests and pathogens after they have been detected - when they have already colonised an area, in order to take the best measures for eradication or containment. As the spatial scale of the actions is very relevant, the objectives will be broken down into two levels - landscape and stand/tree. The work package will develop and test more effective tools and methods, based on new technologies like remote sensing, drones and multi-lure trapping of pests, all combined in an intelligent system providing end-users with precise information about the quantity of pathogens and pests occurring in the target area.
+WP5: Eradication containment tools
The objective of WP5 is to improve methods of efficient eradication and containment of invasive or emerging PnPs of trees and forests once they are detected. Methods should be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly, using mass trapping, mating disruption, or host plant removal.
+WP6: Control tools
The general objective of WP6 is to improve the biological control of emerging and invasive pests and pathogens of forest and ornamental trees when eradication or containment are not feasible. The specific objectives are to provide the tools to carry out safe and efficient classical biological control operations against invasive tree PnPs in Europe; assess whether and how forest diversity enhances forest ecosystem resistance and resilience to invasions and pest and disease outbreaks; and improve the use of biopesticides to increase effectiveness and reduce environmental impact.
WP7 will develop the communication and dissemination strategy of the project, in order to reach out to both the scientific community and stakeholders across sectors. The work package will prepare the Plan for the Exploitation and Dissemination of Results and the Data Management Plan. WP7 is also responsible for establishing a project brand, marketing collateral, website and social network profiles; and broadly disseminating the project results to a wide range of targets. Thereby, well-known and respected dissemination platforms and knowledge exchange structures, relevant to forest pests and pathogens will be utilised.
+WP8: Project management
The three main objectives of WP8 are to steer the project to address all unexpected situations, be these scientific, technological, environmental or societal; to ensure that the project progresses in conformity with the work plan with regards to overall progress, milestones, deliverables and planned resources; and to optimise the infrastructural setup to support the project, with special attention paid to financial, logistics, information, coordination issues and in terms of quality and conformity to EC rules and procedures.