Building upon the success of the South African Sirex Control Program and the Leptocybe invasa national monitoring, this large-scale monitoring project is led by the Tree Protection Co-operative Program (TPCP), funded by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE). The Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) is collaborating on the project, and utilizing the services of Cropwatch Africa to support the on-ground monitoring.

The initial focus of the project is to develop protocols for surveying the main pests and pathogens affecting plantation forests, such as eucalypts, pine, and wattle. Effective communication channels with the forestry sector will also be established to ensure that the monitoring data can be utilized for real-time management responses.

In recent months, Sandisiwe Jali, the TPCP field extension manager, along with a team from Cropwatch Africa, has been working tirelessly in the field, sharing knowledge and expertise on the mobile app and identifying pests and diseases. The initial monitoring efforts have focused on young Eucalyptus trees in the provinces of Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, where the team's enthusiasm and dedication have been evident.

The positive feedback received thus far underscores the tremendous potential for the national surveillance strategy. The next step will be to expand the survey to pine and wattle sites, as well as older stands.

Stay tuned as South Africa continues its proactive measures to protect its valuable forests.