Utility of decision tools for assessing plant health risks from management strategies in natural environments

Donald, Flora ORCID:; Hedges, Carrie; Purse, Bethan V. ORCID:; Cunniffe, Nik J.; Green, Sarah; Asaaga, Festus A. ORCID: 2024 Utility of decision tools for assessing plant health risks from management strategies in natural environments. Ecology and Evolution, 14 (5), e11308. 13, pp.

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Increased imports of plants and timber through global trade networks provide frequent opportunities for the introduction of novel plant pathogens that can cross-over from commercial to natural environments, threatening native species and ecosystem functioning. Prevention or management of such outbreaks relies on a diversity of cross-sectoral stakeholders acting along the invasion pathway. Yet, guidelines are often only produced for a small number of stakeholders, missing opportunities to consider ways to control outbreaks in other parts of the pathway. We used the infection of common juniper with the invasive pathogen Phytophthora austrocedri as a case study to explore the utility of decision tools for managing outbreaks of plant pathogens in the wider environment. We invited stakeholders who manage or monitor juniper populations or supply plants or management advice to participate in a survey exploring their awareness of, and ability to use, an existing decision tree produced by a coalition of statutory agencies augmented with new distribution maps designed by the authors. Awareness of the decision tree was low across all stakeholder groups including those planting juniper for restoration purposes. Stakeholders requested that decision tools contain greater detail about environmental conditions that increase host vulnerability to the pathogen, and clearer examples of when management practices implicated in pathogen introduction or spread should not be adopted. The results demonstrate the need to set clear objectives for the purpose of decision tools and to frame and co-produce them with many different stakeholders, including overlooked groups, such as growers and advisory agents, to improve management of pathogens in the wider environment.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2045-7758
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: biosecurity, co-production, decision tools, habitat restoration, plant health, policy process
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 03 May 2024 11:34 +0 (UTC)

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