In 2016, the forest industry contributed over $23 billion to Canada’s nominal Gross Domestic Product. As one of the most important manufacturing sectors, forestry made up 7% of Canada’s exports reaching $34.4 billion and supporting over 210 thousand jobs from coast to coast (NRCan, 2018).
Expansion of international trade with partners from around the world makes Canada increasingly vulnerable to insects and pathogens from outside our boarders. These invasive alien species (IAS) threaten our forests and our urban trees. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the regulatory body that protects Canada’s forests and agricultural resources by intercepting alien forest pests and intervening before they establish themselves. This project developed, validated and deployed genome-based biosurveillance tools to prevent and mitigate two important forest IAS threats – Asian Gypsy moth and Sudden Oak Death:
The assays and kits were tested and validated in different project partner laboratories and the technology transferred to CFIA as well as the US Department of Agriculture for implementation.
By preventing the introduction and establishment of these pests in the first place, the costs of dealing with them will be avoided, while Canada’s pest-free status, crucial to maintaining export markets, will be maintained. Adoption of these tools is forecasted to save an estimated $375-$625 million over three-to-five years.