Final Report

The potential of ecological and epidemiological models to inform assessment and mitigation of biosecurity risks arising from large scale planting


Exotic pests and pathogens are introduced to new regions primarily through human movements of plants and plant products, with devastating consequences for individual host species, ecosystem function and society. Large scale planting projects linked to infra-structure such as transport networks and major housing projects or to planting for environmental benefits (e.g., urban greening, woodland restoration) pose high biosecurity risks due to the high number and types of plants involved.

This report focusses on whether and how ecological and epidemiological model frameworks can inform assessment and mitigation of biosecurity risks from large scale planting using a combination of literature review and stakeholder engagement.  The project aimed to identify priority steps to develop more useful models and tools for assessing biosecurity risks from planting in the future. Recommendations included:

  • Models be co-designed with stakeholders and integrated with existing tools to support decision-making such as ESC (Ecological Site Classification) that predicts survival and yield of different tree hosts under current and future climate conditions.
  • Cross-sectoral collaboration at all levels is required to collect and hold data on historical and current plant choices, locations and ecosystems as well as pest and pathogen detection, spread and impact.

This work was undertaken as part of projects PHC2019/05 and PHC2019/06: Assessment of large-scale plant biosecurity risks to Scotland from (i) large-scale plantings for landscaping and infra structure projects and (ii) large-scale tree plantings for environmental benefits.  We recommend reading the final report for all three projects to get a full picture of the results along with the policy summary that highlights the key findings and suggested actions.