This project provided a ranking of the relative ecological importance of European tree species which can be used in developing risk assessment of tree pests and diseases. It thus helps public and private sector woodland managers develop adaptive strategies to the benefit of biodiversity.
Outputs from the project have achieved a high profile amongst key stakeholders including statutory advisers to the UK Government and devolved administrations, notably the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Scottish Natural Heritage.
In addition to its direct outputs, the project helped to extend the researcher’s, and James Hutton Institute’s, connections with International peer groups, supporting their participation in an EU COST Action FP1401 (Global Warning) on an early warning system against alien tree pests. It supported a short term scientific mission to work at CABI, Switzerland, to review approaches to assess the ecological impact of a decline in an individual tree species or genera before a specific disease or pest is known. This, in turn, has expanded Institutional capabilities and has boosted leadership in a key area of public policy (e.g. Priority 4 in the draft Scottish Government Forestry Strategy).
Finally, the project led to the researcher being involved in a collaborative project on the “Potential ecological impact of box tree moth and box blight in the Eastern Black Sea Region” funded by the German Federal Foreign office (Total value 30,000 Euros; £5K to James Hutton Institute). One of the strategic aims of the funder is to facilitate greater connectivity between scientists in the western Caucasus regions, specifically the Republics of Abkhazia and Georgia, thereby supporting peaceful relations in the region. The project was exceptional in this regard leading to not only a report to the German Federal Foreign Office but also (based upon information available) the first scientific paper co-authored by scientists from these areas (Mitchell et al., 2018).