Insects play an important role in woodland ecosystems, providing food for other wildlife, pollinating plants and preying on important pests.

Destructive insect pests of trees are an integral part of forest ecosystems, having a significant economic, ecological, and often social, impact on forest productivity and values. Infestations typically reduce tree growth rates and weaken trees, exposing them to more harmful secondary pests and diseases. Many pests, such as scolytid beetles also directly transmit fungal diseases.

Ideally these adverse impacts should be prevented or maintained at tolerable levels using ecological sound and sustainable means. The most sustainable way to achieve this is through integrated forest pest management. A combination of strategies involving semiochemicals, natural predators, pesticides and silvicultural practices can be used to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and help manage infestations.

Every year new alien species are intercepted at borders or recorded as established, primarily as a result of increased international trade. Although pests do arrive along with fresh timber and young plants, a greater threat comes from stowaways on crating, dunnage and pallets. Furthermore, thermal imitations, which prevented tropical pest species from colonising sub-tropical and temperate regions, are being reduced as global warming increases. As a result the probability of an introduced pest population surviving and proliferating is significantly increased.

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