The basic questions in forest entomology were strongly brought up in presentations and discussions in the joint meeting of IUFRO, Forest Insects and Pathogens in a Changing Environment: Ecology, Monitoring & Genetics, held in Thessaloniki, Greece from the 11th to 15th of September. Over 80 forest entomologists gathered to the venue from all over the world. Most of the researchers that joined the meeting are working in different institutes in North-America and Europe, where also the outbreaks of bark beetles as well as establishment of alien species are an increasing problem to ecological, economic and social sustainability.
The focus of the presentations were on the dispersal of pest and alien species, details of research methods and preparation to challenges derived from climate change. The importance of the origin and route of alien species introduced to new habitats was highlighted in the meeting. In addition, new and further developed sampling methods and remote sensing –techniques were utilized for producing reliable monitoring data and predictions of damage caused by pests.
The role of forest entomologists, as the leaders of knowledge, is very important for maintaining good forest health also in the future. One good example of this was presented in the congress: a success story of a pesticide-free method developed for the prevention of large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis). The method was developed and introduced widely in Swedish nurseries. Long-term research and collaboration with industry enabled the development and also the use of the method in practice. In the best scenario, close cooperation with researchers and other collaborative working parties enhances practical solutions. Collaboration may increase knowledge, benefit society and meet the demands of end users, such as private forest owners.
One of the most invigorating observation in the meeting was the enthusiastic atmosphere of the researchers to study the issues and protect forest health and ecosystem services of forests in the changing world. Even though the angles to deal with the issues and the studied organisms varied from side to side, connective factors between the participants were uniform goals and willingness to find solutions to maintain forest health. It was clear that the work of forest entomologists is neverending. Furthermore, the communication and collaboration of researchers cannot be highlighted enough.
Thank you for the organizing committee of the sunny Thessaloniki meeting and special thanks to Dimitrios Avtzis. Warm greetings also to all participants and finally “Egészségedre!” to all of those who knows what it means.
Elina and Minna