Back from the brink: how biocontrol saved St Helena’s national tree from extinction

Gumwoods of St Helena
The gumwoods of St Helena are flourishing again after facing extinction

By Wayne Coles

At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.

In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.

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Navigating the Nagoya Protocol – CABI’s commitment to Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources

locust metarhizium2
Locust metarhizium

CABI scientists have penned an important paper published in the journal Biocontrol Science and Technology which pulls no punches when it boldly states ‘the future of humankind and the rest of Earth’s biodiversity depend upon our research efforts generating solutions to the global challenges.’

Now this stark realisation has grabbed your attention, what does the body of work entitled ‘Biological control and the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing – a case of effective due diligence’ actually mean for the future of CABI’s endeavours in agricultural science and its mission to help farmers lose less of their crops to a range of pests and diseases and develop solutions to increase yields and feed more?

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National Meadows Day 2018

wildflower meadow
British wildflower meadows are a hive of biological diversity but have largely been lost due to conversion to agriculture. CC0 Couleur via Pixabay

 

National meadows day is an annual awareness event focussed around the first Saturday of July, but up and down the country activities took over the whole weekend. Traditionally managed British meadows are characterised by low soil fertility and actively managed cutting or grazing, supporting a range of colourful flowering species including the oxeye daisies seen in the picture above. These species rich meadows, which used to cover much of England’s countryside, were traditionally generated by farmers managing for hay and pasture. Ironically these important habitats have now largely been eradicated by modern agriculture. In recognition of this fact there are now numerous conservation projects and financial incentives in place to encourage the maintenance and regeneration of British Meadows. But with so many environmental schemes and species vying for position in British conservation why are meadows so important and how can agriculture help? Continue reading

This World Environment Day it’s time to beat plastic pollution

Plastic_waste
Discarded plastic waste. Image credit: Ben_Kerckx via Pixabay

World Environment Day, held annually on 5th June, is considered to be the UN’s most important day for promoting global awareness and action to protect the environment.  This year’s theme is one that shines a spotlight on what has become a particularly hot topic over the last year – plastic pollution.   Coincidentally, it was also the theme of this year’s Earth Day and will be the focus of World Oceans Day on June 8 and all for good reason.

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Climate change and its implication on Biological Control: Case studies from Latin America

Climate changeDr Yelitza Colmenarez, CABI Brazil Centre Director & Plantwise Regional Coordinator – Latin America and Caribbean, recently presented at the First International Congress of Biological Control in Beijing, China, on the fascinating issue of climate change and the impact on the Biological Control of agricultural pests and diseases in Latin America.

Here we present Dr Colmenarez’s expert insight (including link to her full PowerPoint presentation) into what pests and diseases need to prioritized and why Climate Smart Agriculture could be the key to fighting these risks to crops exacerbated by changing climatic conditions in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

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Mapping out ‘Biological control for a healthy planet’ – notes from a China conference

By Dr Sivapragasam (Siva) Annamalai, Regional Director/Plantwise Regional Team Leader at CABI

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CABI staff at the First International Congress of Biological Control, 14-16 May 2018, Beijing, China

More than 1000 biological control researchers and practitioners from 46 countries came together in Beijing, China during the week of 14 to 16 May 2018 to participate in this First International Congress on Biological Control (ICBC-1).

The theme of the Congress was “Biological Control for a healthy planet” and covered a broad range of highly pertinent topics. There were 12 plenary lectures, 15 scientific sessions with 160 presentations and large number of poster presentations.

The Congress was co-hosted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) and the China Society of Plant Protection.

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