This past November, Dr Chris Malumphy, senior entomologist with Fera Science in the United Kingdom and Dr Trudy Paap, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) at FABI, conducted International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) workshops at SANBI National Botanical Gardens in Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. The IPSN was launched in 2013 as a platform to coordinate information exchange and provide support for sentinel plant research within botanical gardens. The project uses sentinel trees (species planted outside their natural range) in botanical gardens to gain valuable information on potential new host-pest interactions, and can function as an early warning system for the arrival of new and emerging pests and diseases.

Covering a range of topics including background to the IPSN, pests presenting potential future plant health threats to South Africa, the importance of biosecurity and hygiene, and management options for existing tree health issues within the gardens, the workshops were a great opportunity to engage with botanical garden staff, nurserymen, and managers of public parks and nature estates.