A TREE pest management solution that could have global implications for forest management has emerged from a £550,000 Scottish Government research investment.

Every year, the pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) kills millions of newly planted trees across Europe, causing an estimated £5m in direct losses in the UK alone. On sites badly affected by weevils, 100% of saplings can be destroyed in just a few weeks. Current treatments also significantly delay the re-establishment of future forest crops.

Now, thanks to the ScotGov funding, a remote monitoring system designed by engineering company, Spotta, offers a solution that will save trees and resources, and significantly reduce pesticide spraying.

Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan, said: “Forestry and woodland creation are key to Climate Emergency mitigation and to Scotland achieving Net Zero, so it is vital that newly planted trees are given every opportunity to grow.

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“Tree pests are a serious threat to the economic, social and environmental benefits that forestry provides and finding solutions that help manage them effectively is a huge benefit – not just here in Scotland but potentially much further afield. This innovative solution is a tremendous benefit for the forestry sector and the environment.”

The Spotta solution is a small onsite device that counts weevils and notifies foresters when the weevil population gets to critical levels. This provides foresters with the hectare-by-hectare information they need to act at the earliest opportunity to counter the threat posed by the pest. Ultimately, this saves time and trees, reduces pesticide use and increases productivity.

The solution is applicable anywhere that the weevils are present and has also been adapted to target other pests in agriculture and forestry globally.