Funding provided to tackle top forestry pest

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has announced the launch of a new project to tackle the most serious pest of newly planted young trees in Scotland, the large pine weevil ‘Hylobius abietis’.

Current methods of controlling weevil damage are heavily reliant on a small number of chemical pesticides. One aspect of this fund will seek opportunities to find alternative methods of weevil control, therefore reducing the use of chemicals.

Backed with up to £550,000 of funding from the CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund initiative, the project will be led by Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) partnered by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council.

The large pine weevil, Hylobius abietis, is found across the UK and is capable of damaging and killing all conifer species in Scotland, as well as many species of broadleaved trees.

Mr Ewing said:

“The pine weevil is a serious threat to the economic, social and environmental benefits that forestry provides. Each year, it is estimated to cause direct losses of around £5million across the UK and significantly delay the re-establishment of future forest crops.

“We need to develop further innovative and successful solutions to tackle this serious pest of young trees.

“This project being run by Forest Enterprise Scotland has the potential to significantly improve the sustainable management of woodland in Scotland.”

The FES project will support research into potential solutions that could benefit the private and public sector forest industries.

Jo Ellis, FES Acting Head of Land Management, said;

“This is a very welcome initiative that we hope will uncover some new, effective approaches to tackling a common and damaging forestry pest.”

The project will fund the research and development of potential solutions that can achieve cost effective establishment of young forest trees by reducing losses from Hylobius abietis damage.

Any cost effective solution that meets the brief and contributes to the Integrated Pest Management Plan will be considered.

Prospective innovators will have 8 weeks (Sept/Nov 2018) to submit proposals. These proposals will be evaluated competitively with only the most innovative ideas selected for funding, resulting in up to five successful applicants being awarded up to £30,000 to develop their idea further.

If, after five months of development, the idea is subsequently proven, further funding of up to £200,000 can be awarded to test prototypes of up to two of the most promising newly developed control options in the field and over the tree planting seasons 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

Successful bidders will retain intellectual property rights to their ideas so that they can be seamlessly brought to market after the end of the research and development phase.

Further information and considerations – and details of how to apply – can be found on Public Contracts Scotland.

The project will be open for applications from September 2018.

Notes to editors

  1. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of the Forestry Commission and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  2. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus bidh e a’ toirt seachad comhairle air poileasaidhean coilltearachd agus air riaghladh. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta as leth Ministearan na h-Alba.
  3. The CAN DO Innovation Challenge Fund is a national fund which supports Scottish public sector organisations to find and develop innovative solutions to operational service and policy delivery challenges.
  4. The fund is managed by a partnership of Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council.
  5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.