Evidence for sustainable plantation forestry

The future of exotic plantation forestry in the tropics and southern Hemisphere: Lessons from pitch canker

Published in: The Southern African Forestry Journal
Volume 195, issue 1, 2002 , pages: 79–82
DOI: 10.1080/20702620.2002.10434607
Author(s): MichaelJ. WingfieldDepartments of Microbiology, Plant Pathology and Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), South Africa, TeresaA. CoutinhoDepartments of Microbiology, Plant Pathology and Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), South Africa, Jolanda RouxDepartments of Microbiology, Plant Pathology and Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), South Africa, BrendaD. WingfieldDepartments of Microbiology, Plant Pathology and Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), South Africa

Abstract

Exotic plantation forestry, particularly with Pinus and Eucalyptus species in the tropics and southern Hemisphere, has expanded dramatically during the course of the last Century. Success of these intensively managed plantations is largely attributed to the fact that trees have been separated from their natural enemies. Due to increasing rates of introduction of pests and pathogens, this is a situation that is changing relatively rapidly. There is also growing evidence that unexpected native pests and pathogens are developing the capacity to infect exotic plantation trees. Clearly, highly productive, and intensively managed fibre farms are threatened and their future is likely to be more complicated than it has been in the past. The appearance of the pitch canker pathogen, Fusarium circinatum in South Mrica, provides a contemporary example of new problems relating to a pathogen, previously absent from a country. This pathogen was first found in a single nursery and it has rapidly spread to all South Mrican pine nurseries. It has significantly complicated pine propagation and is resulting in substantial losses in plantation establishment. Whether the fungus will manifest itself as a pathogen of adult trees as is the case elsewhere, is unknown. But this prospect is a matter of serious concern. Research aimed at a better understanding of the biology of F. circinatum in South Mrica is essential. Furthermore, development of disease tolerant planting stock, in advance of a potentially deteriorating situation, would appear to be crucially important.

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