Tree professionals play an important role in protecting forests against invasive pests.
Awareness of pests and knowledge of how they spread is likely to be a key component of
effective detection, eradication and management measures, but very little is known about
awareness levels of this stakeholder group. To address this important evidence gap, a
questionnaire survey of tree professionals was carried out across nine European countries.
Results from 392 tree professionals show relatively low levels of self-reported awareness for
a number of pests. Levels of awareness rise with increasing age as well as frequency of visits
to forests. Awareness also appeared higher where pests were present in the respondent‘s
country. There was a high level of support for purchasing plant material from accredited
sources. Barriers to changing behaviours include financial and resource pressures but also the
perceived behaviour of others. Tree professionals utilise multiple sources to gain information
about tree pests but internet was the most popular. A considerable amount of pest information
is already available online and this study recommends that different approaches to raising
awareness be trialled including utilising experienced tree professionals as knowledge brokers
and exploring new ways of using digital technologies as a learning tool.
This research was carried out as part of COST Action FP1002—Pathway Evaluation and Pest Risk Management in Transport (PERMIT).