FABI made an early start to the new year with Marthin Tarigan presenting his Prestige Seminar “Emerging pathogens of Eucalyptus and Acacia plantation forestry in Indonesia” on 8 January. This was followed by his successfully defending his thesis afterwards. A hearty Selamat (congratulations) to Marthin from FABI!

Marthin completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Mike Wingfield and Prof. Irene Barnes. He, along with Nam Pham are the first two PhD candidates to complete their doctoral studies as part of the RGE-FABI Tree Health Programme established in 2018 as a partnership between Indonesia’s Royal Golden Eagle group and FABI. This programme, now entering a second five-year term addresses challenges posed by pests and diseases to RGE’s forestry operations in Indonesia and Brazil. Marthin’s external examiners were Prof. Edson Furtado of São Paulo State University in Brazil and Prof. Helena Bragança of the National Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Research in Portugal. Prof. Martin Coetzee served as the internal examiner.

Prof. Mike Wingfield congratulated Marthin on completing an exceptionally strong research product. This was against the background of holding a full-time and senior leadership position and also having to contend with the disruption of the CoViD pandemic during the course of his studies. Mike described how he first met Marthin in 1996 while visiting Indonesia and noted that they have worked closely ever since. Including on Marthin’s MSc degree in FABI completed in 2007.

Plantations of non-native Eucalyptus spp. and Acacia spp. are expanding rapidly around the world to meet global demand for wood-based products. More than seven million hectares of these trees have been established in South East Asia, where Eucalyptus is increasingly replacing A. mangium, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, due to a devastating vascular wilt disease caused by Ceratocystis manginecans. Marthin’s PhD provides substantial new knowledge regarding pathogens affecting plantation forestry in Indonesia. This also contributes to management options, particularly through breeding and selection of tolerant planting stock. Furthermore, the results expand the known host and geographical ranges of several previously unknown fungal species such as those in the genera Calonectria and Quambalaria. While such new knowledge has been acquired, it is also clear that there are many other disease challenges facing plantation forestry in Indonesia and more broadly in South East Asia. Thus, intensive research similar to that conducted by Marthin will be needed to manage them in the future and thus to maintain the sustainability of plantation forestry in the region.