ACTION  D.2: Monitoring of the ecosystem decline and parasites and pathogens impact

A permanent monitoring of pests and pathogens within the Palo Laziale's wood and Nestos Delta is necessary to monitor the effectiveness of the concrete conservation actions. These actions should improve the environmental status and encourage the ecological recovery of forest vegetation by reducing stress factors, such as the tree pathogens. The monitoring is also useful to verify, and eventually to re-adapt, the interventions in progress and planned.

The monitoring starts from assessing the presence of opportunistic pathogens already detected in Palo Laziale, such as Biscogniauxia mediterranea. The pathogenicity of this fungus has increased over the past decades along with the environmental stress conditions of the wood of Palo Laziale, causing the death of most of the adult oak trees. Before the beginning of the Project, tree canopy was reduced by about 80% compared to the first appearance of the pathogen in 1995 (but the pathogen peak occurred after the summer of 2003 when about 40% of the trees were found died).

The fungus is still present in the woodland but probably in dormant status as the death of the host halts its pathogenic phase. Forest stands composed of tree individuals in good vegetative condition, or new seedlings are immune to its attack. The recovery of the ecological conditions and the conservation status of the forest ecosystem as a whole, is therefore at the cornerstone, in particular supporting the growth of the existent seedlings (Action C2) and planting healthy vegetation (Action C1, C6).

The presence and the status of opportunistic pathogens are monitored through field surveys. In particular, visual detection and assessment of symptoms in infected and non-infected individuals, together with sampling and laboratory analysis of biological and molecular samplings (see below), will be carried out over Palo Laziale's forest. Appropriate indicators of disease, such as incidence, severity, mortality and disease index, will be used to quantify the extent of any new infections and their effects on vegetation.

The gathered data will be aggregated within a georeferenced database and used to run statistical and spatial comparisons (e.g. spatialisation using kriking methodologies). For example, the data are used to update the currently available information, such as the Incidence Index Distribution Map (see below). After the conservation action, it is expected that the distribution of the areas with an index equal or lower to 0.6 will be larger after the restoration activities.

The monitoring will be carried out every year in spring and fall from 2020; annual reports and a final report will be drafted at the end of the Action.

Beneficiary responsible for implementation:

DEB is responsible for the monitoring action, also in Greece, even if in Nestos there is no evidence of infection to date.

DEB employs:

  • an Associated Professor of the Department, expert in phytopathology, to supervise the preparation of the monitoring protocol, the laboratory activity, and the annual and final reports;
  • a Forestry Phytopathologist (external), experienced in phytopathological monitoring and the related laboratory activity, to implement and apply the monitoring protocol through relevant field surveys, laboratory analysis, and data processing, and to prepare the annual and the final reports;
  • a Laboratory Technician to support the laboratory analysis.

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