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International Plant Sentinel Network
A major issue assessing the risk of plant pests is that the most serious invasive alien species are often not pests in their region of origin, either because they are controlled by natural enemies that do not occur in the region of introduction, or because their original hosts are more resistant to the pest than the newly encountered host plants. The majority of the most damaging alien forest pests and diseases that have or have had a dramatic impact on temperate forests are considered as harmless in their native areas and would not have been predicted as pests by conventional pest risk analysis (PRA).
It is estimated that 30-40% of known plant species are grown in living collections of the more than 3,000 botanic gardens and arboreta throughout the world. Often, species are maintained in gardens not in the country or even on the continent in which they are native. These expatriate plants offer a unique opportunity to understand and predict potential invasive threats to a country’s plant health.
Expatriate plants can act as standing sentinels for potentially invasive pests and pathogens. For example, surveying native European plants growing in botanic gardens and arboreta outside Europe, especially in countries with similar climates, offers an excellent opportunity to monitor for damage by non-native pests and diseases. This information can be used to provide an early warning system, identifying new pest and pathogen risks to a country’s native flora.
Sentinel plants can also provide valuable information which can help:
In recent years, it has been proposed that a formal structure be developed under which gardens could act individually and collectively to increase the predictive power of their collections, and engage other partners who can use this information.
Developing an International Plant Sentinel Network:
Further information The IPSN is keen to hear from any botanic gardens and arboreta, or any institutes / individuals involved in plant health who are interested in the project. For more information please contact Ellie Barham (email@example.com) - IPSN coordinator