The benefits and challenges of protecting plants from pest spread – some vivid examples from CPM-12

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Melanie Bateman presenting on the mutli-sectoral FORIS project which aims to protect forests from Invasive Alien Species in SE Asia. Photo: Stephanie Dubon

The 12th session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM) featured a full day of talks covering a range of topics related to plant health. The day began with a session on the benefits (and also the challenges) of implementing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs).

A talk given by the Executive Director of the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association, Ron Campbell, compellingly documented the monetary and employment benefits of the export of Hass avocados for both the exporting country, Mexico, and the importing country, the USA. This case study detailed how implementing just under 20 key ISPMs had enabled avocado exporters from the Mexican state of Michoacán to gain access to US markets, first in the northern most states of the US and over time to the whole country. While implementation of these standards involved many steps and required significant effort, the benefits to both Mexico and the USA were thousands of jobs across the supply chain and billions of dollars in returns.

A side session on the IPPC in Asia featured talks from the Republic of Korea’s Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (APQA, the National Plant Protection Organisation) and the Asia Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC, the Regional Plant Protection Organisation). The panellist Kyu-Ock Yim, Senior Researcher from APQA, presented on the progress and future plans for the Republic of Korea’s NPPO. She also gave examples of plant protection challenges, such as the incursion of the pinewood nematode into the country’s forests, and the possibilities presented by new tools, such as the use of remote sensing and other technologies for pest surveillance.

The talk from Yongfan Piao, the APPPC Executive Director, illustrated what can be achieved at the national level, for example by updating regulations to better address plant protection, and at the regional level, for example through the development of regional standards to address shared concerns such as the Regional Standard for Phytosanitary Measures, Guidelines for Protection against South American Leaf Blight of Rubber. With regard to invasive alien species (IAS) which are pests of plants, both speakers emphasized the need for a multi-sectoral approach involving not just NPPOs but also other Ministries such as the Ministry of the Environment.

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Side event on Facilitation of international trade and safeguarding biodiversity from the the spread of invasive alien species which are pests of plants. L-R: Brent Larson (chair), Junko Shimura, Melanie Bateman. Photo: Stephanie Dubon

The need to apply a multi-sectoral approach for the management of IAS was a theme that was returned to in the afternoon session on Facilitation of international trade and safeguarding biodiversity from the spread of invasive alien species which are pests of plants. The IPPC Secretariat introduced the side session topic, noting that the IPPC is recognized as a Biodiversity-related Convention and, as such, it is a member of the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions (BLG). Ms Junko Shimura, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, provided an overview of the Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 which states that “by 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.” She also explained the Sustainable Development Goal target 15.8 which states that “measures should be introduced to prevent the introduction, and significantly reduce the impact of, invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems, and control or eradicate the priority species.” Both of these targets are ambitious and time bound. She went on to give an overview of the official financial mechanism for the implementation of the CBD, the Global Environment Facility (GEF). She noted that the next cycle of GEF funding will begin in 2018, and invasive alien species are one of the issues that it will likely address.

In the next presentation, Melanie Bateman of CABI Switzerland presented on the GEF-funded project Removing Barriers to Invasive Species Management in Production and Protected Forests in Southeast Asia (FORIS) which was implemented in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam from 2012 to 2016. She noted that the FORIS project sought to support the overall goal of conserving globally important forests from invasive alien species by addressing barriers such as regulatory gaps. The FORIS project was multi-sectoral, involving Ministries of the Environment, Forestry, etc. and agencies such as those which are charged with wildlife management and biodiversity. NPPOs were also key players.  A video contribution from A. Sivapragasam, Director of CABI’s Southeast Asia Regional Centre, provided further information on the issues addressed by the FORIS project and the project’s achievements. These included the development of national multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms for IAS management, the preparation of national IAS strategies and action plans as well increased regional cooperation. Alien Hunters in Indonesia, a documentary film on invasive alien weeds and their management in Indonesia, was one output of the project. It was shown on approximately 25 TV channels in 15 countries, with an estimated 250 million viewers, making a significant contribution to awareness-raising on the issue of invasive alien species. At the conclusion of the presentations from the CBD and CABI, the IPPC Secretariat reiterated that the NPPOs should seek conversation and interaction with the environmental sector at national level.

Other talks during the day covered topics such as an assessment of the implementation of a key standard on the movement of wood packing material in international trade (ISPM 15), the new WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation which went into force in February of this year, ePhyto, and the new plant health regime in the European Union.

Presentations from the side events will be made available at http://www.phytosanitary.info/

Contributed by Melanie Bateman, CABI

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