All kinds of animals, such as deer and insects, and even plants feed on forest trees. This natural process becomes problematic when the forest can no longer perform important services for people, or when pests spread excessively (become invasive).
Proliferation of insects and wildlife can cause trees to die back and devalue timber, thereby undermining important forest functions. Although damage and collapse of forest stands as a result of insect infestations are a natural part of forest dynamics, this is undesirable beyond a certain point in protection and commercial forests in particular.
Resilient forest stands that are suitable for their location are a key requirement for containing pest infestations. An adverse forest structure, extreme weather conditions and invasive species increase the risk of considerable damage. Insect pests also include those that are harmful to human and animal health or that lead to noticeable patterns of infestation.
In Switzerland, bark beetle infestations are tackled almost exclusively using mechanical methods, whereby infested trees are felled and stripped of bark or taken away. The use of pesticides is severely restricted in the forest.
The forest ecosystem is an extremely complex biological community. Insects play a crucial role in this. In the Forest Entomology research group we examine these areas in detail.