Portucel Mozambique is part of The Navigator Company, and has been developing Eucalyptus plantations and associated nurseries and other support structures in Mozambique since 2009. They are the biggest developers of the forestry industry in the country.  Establishing such a business is an enormously complex undertaking, from legal requirements about land and business development, to engagements with communities, sourcing and testing of appropriate planting material, and building all the logistical and support structures from scratch. Dealing with the eventual emergence of pests and disease issues, which is an unavoidable part of intensive plant production systems, is one of the biggest threats to such an undertaking.

Portucel Mozambique has been engaging with researchers in FABI and linked to the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) since 2022 with regards to developing a pest and disease support system. Following engagements with the TPCP Board, these engagements continued with the first samples arriving at the end of 2022. Between 17-20 January, Proff Bernard Slippers, Brett Hurley and Irene Barnes visited the operations in the Ile district in Mozambique. This included visits to the Lua nursery and several field sites.

The objective of the study was to assess the extent and diversity of pest and disease issues first hand. They also collected samples from representative disease and pest symptoms to determine the identity of the potential causal agents, and to build a baseline knowledge and collections for potential future projects. The negotiations about the development of a longer-term support structure and program to deal with pests and disease issues in the region is ongoing. Such a program will not only have value for Portucel Mozambique, but for forestry in the region as a whole through foresight and insight into emergence and distribution of pest and disease issues. The project aligns with the philosophy of the TPCP and FABI that forest health is not a national issue, but an international one that requires strong cross border and cross-continent partnerships and programs.