A regional workshop for European and Central Asian countries was held in Hungary in June 2015 to promote the implementation of phytosanitary standards in forestry and other forest health activities in the region. Participants highlighted increased threats to forests in Europe and Central Asia posed by the movement and establishment of forest invasive species, which is also exacerbated by climate change.
Combatting forest invasive species in the region is hampered by a lack of information and its dissemination. Workshop participants identified the need for a network or “platform” where scientists, managers and policy-makers can share information and experiences and coordinate forest invasive species activities and programmes within the region and beyond. Establishing information exchange networks and working groups on forest invasive species help to raise awareness, develop databases, facilitate exchange of information and strengthen institutional capacity in the respective region.
To initiate the establishment of a suitable platform, the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia organized a “Forest Invasive Species in Europe and Central Asia” meeting in Minsk, Belarus from 6-7 September 2016. Representatives from many countries of Europe and Central Asia came together to tackle the shared problem of forest invasive species. The main objective of this meeting was to kick-off a functional network to foster integrated and dynamic forest pest management in the region and provide baseline data for informed decision-making.
The mission of REUFIS is to highlight the importance of using existing tools and structures and to exchange and share knowledge and information related to forest invasive species.
The REUFIS aims to:
- Enable sharing of information and experiences, coordinate activities on forest invasive species, raise awareness in eradication, control and management of forest invasive species, encourage publication and sharing of research results, early detection and monitoring strategies, and taxonomic support, and provide a communication link for all levels within and between member countries.
- Collaborate and cooperate with existing international and regional organizations, such as the FAO International Plant Convention (IPPC), the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) and dealing with forest invasive species, strengthen national capacities to manage forest pests, and provide decision-makers with baseline data for making informed decisions.
- Advocate compliance with phytosanitary regulations and provide policy advice on movement of forest invasive species.
The REUFIS network is supported by an Executive Committee, which currently has five country representatives. The member countries at the last REUFIS meeting elected the following country representatives:
- Victoria Covali from Moldova
- Samidin Dusmanov from Uzbekistan
- Yuri Gninenko from Russia
- Giorgi Mamadashvili from Georgia
- Bjørn Økland from Norway
The Secretariat is coordinating the day-to-day tasks related to the REUFIS network. At the last REUFIS meeting the members of the network elected Ferenc Lakatos as the REUFIS Secretary. His work is supported by a Secretariat, which is seated at the University of Sopron, Hungary.