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The Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) was established based on a very small team of researchers at the University of the Free State and focused on a single threatening Eucalyptus disease problem. The programme has since grown to become highly recognised internationally as the single strongest programme dealing with pest and pathogen problems in plantation forestry in the world. The TPCP has also brought huge energy to agricultural research and education in the biological sciences in South Africa. For example, it formed the foundation for the establishment of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, which in just 16 years has become a flagship research centre promoting many aspects of plant improvement in South Africa.

The TPCP represents a Co-operative research initiative between the University of Pretoria and all private forestry companies in South Africa. It is also supported by the South African Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Other than long and short-term research, the TPCP provides members with extension services, training of forestry students at Universities, access to a world-class disease and pest diagnostic clinic and guidance in dealing with tree pest and pathogen problems. One of the key products of the TPCP is to produce biological control agents for insect pests that damage plantations belonging to members. This work depends on outstanding quarantine green house and related facilities.

The TPCP formed the basis for the establishment of the Department of Science and Technology (DST)/National Research Foundation (NRF) Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology (CTHB). This programme focuses on the health of native South African trees. Given that pests and pathogens are moving from native to non-native plantation trees and vice versa, there is substantial synergy between these two programmes.

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Phasha MM, Wingfield BD, Coetzee MPA, Santana QC, Fourie G, Steenkamp ET. (2017) Architecture and distribution of introns in core genes of four Fusarium species. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics 7(11):3809-3820. 10.1534/g3.117.300344
Chen SF, Liu QL, Li GQ, Wingfield MJ. (2017) Quambalaria species associated with eucalypt diseases in southern China. Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering 10.15302/J-FASE-2017173 PDF
Nel WJ, Duong TA, Wingfield BD, Wingfield MJ, De Beer ZW. (2017) A new genus and species for the globally important, multi-host root pathogen Thielaviopsis basicola. Plant Pathology 10.1111/ppa.12803
Aylward J, Wingfield BD, Dreyer LL, Roets F, Wingfield MJ, Steenkamp ET. (2017) Contrasting carbon metabolism in saprotrophic and pathogenic Microascalean fungi from Protea trees. Fungal Ecology 30:88-100. 10.1016/j.funeco.2017.09.002
Wingfield BD. (2017) South Africa can’t afford to see its universities pitch over the precipice. The Conversation https://theconversation.com/south-africa-cant-afford-to-see-its-universities-pitch-over-the-precipic PDF