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Detection of infection nidusses of Ips typographus in the mined forests of Bosnia-Herzegovina

Research project T4/DD/45 (Research action T4)

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The forests in Bosnia-Herzegovina are suffering from important sanitary problems. In particular, bark beetles (Scolytidae) are killing large numbers of conifers. Fungi transported by the beetles stain the wood of the attacked trees and alter its technological properties, resulting in important reductions of the technological qualities of the timber. Control of these harmful pests can be achieved by sanitation thinning and clearfelling, and by using specific lures (pheromones) to attract the beetles to traps or trap trees.

A specific project on forest development in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been implemented by the World Bank. The EU-funded Phare Programme is contributing to this project, in particular through a 1.23 MECU input for bark beetle control.

Prospect C & S has been subcontracted by Phare for preparing this phytosanitary project. In the course of this feasibility study, it soon appeared that 58,000 ha out of the 100,000 ha suffering outbreaks are mined, therefore making direct control impossible. Mined areas attacked by bark beetles represent a threat for the neighbouring areas, as they act as "reservoirs ".

Total treatment of these mined areas is not possible because of the high costs involved and because of higher priorities for demining. There is, however, a possibility to determine priorities among the mined outbreak areas, in order to direct local demining to limited high-priority zones.

The research groups "Systèmes d' Information géographique et Télédétection" and "Laboratoire de Biologie animale et cellulaire" of the Université Libre de Bruxelles have developed a joint expertise in the analysis of forest insect epidemiology using GIS, geostatistics and remote sensing. They will contribute to this project by analysing the potential of high-resolution satellite imagery to detect, characterise and rank infestation foci. A recent SPOT4 XI image (1998) will be analysed and compared to results of a ground survey using a GPS to locale infestation spots. Comparing two successive SPOT images (1997 and 1998) will allow to locate active infestation foci (that have increased in size within one year). The analysis of a very high-resolution image (e.g. IKONOS) will allow further characterisation of the infestation spots: size and distance to the roads. Based upon this information, the infestation spots will be ranked for treatment.

If this feasibility study is successful, a larger programme covering the whole country could be developed, with appropriate national and international funding.

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