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ŠUMARSKI LIST 9-10/2015 str. 51     <-- 51 -->        PDF

feeders, sap-feeders, wood borers or plant pathogens (Liebholdet al., 2013).Residents, teachers, tree professionals and other stakeholders require an awareness and knowledge of alien invasive species in order to identify them or their symptoms and apply early warning measures to mitigate their influence on cultivated trees and forests. More than a half of respondents attended seminars about pests and diseases held by the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Belgrade in the period from 2004-2014 and obtained information about alien species by way of lectures. It is likely, however, that they are not able to apply their knowledge and identify pests and diseases. This suggests that there is need to develop the appropriate educational technology in order for them to gain more practical knowledge and use it as a practical solution.
Although the level of knowledge of respondents about pathways is insufficient; they are of the opinion that imported plants are the main pathway for forest insect and pathogen invasion, which corresponds to research in the USA (Liebhold et al., 2012). Phytosanitary legislation and regulations governing the import of plants for planting are based on the International Plant Protection Convention and the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. The integrated measures for plants for planting described in ISPM 36 (FAO, 2012) are likely to reduce the level of contamination of exported plants (Eshen et al., 2015). Educational technology enables the easy sharing of information on legislation, tree pests and pathogens and, thus, supports lifelong learning and public awareness.
Governmental measures for the prevention of biological invasions are considered to be of low effectiveness, with respondents primarily trusting local authorities, educational establishments, then government and the environmental protection agency. If they found a pest or a diseased tree, they would first inform these institutions. It appears very positive and optimistic that respondents are ready to change their behaviour and perform actions which could represent preventive measures resembling the best practices of Europe and the USA. The most powerful motivation for adults to learn is pleasure, self-respect and respect for others (Tough, 1979, Savićević, 2007). Respondents are eager to gain knowledge about pests and pathogens and they use multiple sources in order to achieve this. The most preferred sources of information are the internet, (e.g. web portals), brochures and articles in newspapers or trade journals. Respondents would prefer to receive information through lectures, seminars and training, with detailed descriptions of pests and pathogens and their biology, well illustrated and with suggested control measures. Motivation among respondents to improve their knowledge and awareness about alien invasive species could be a very important and helpful resource for early detection, especially in private gardens, where monitoring and surveying are not done on a regular basis.
Educational technology could fulfil many requirements of the process of developing public awareness of tree pests and pathogens. The transfer of knowledge is an important issue, especially where public knowledge and awareness is concerned. Problem-based learning as a learner-centred approach is suitable for education and lifelong learning. It is essential that individuals themselves take responsibility for this learning. Learning should be integrated from a wide range of disciplines or subjects, as this meets the needs of a multidisciplinary approach to integrated forest protection. During the process of learning, collaboration is also an essential element. One of the main characteristics of problem-based learning is that it must be valued in the real world. This is exactly what is needed in order to raise public awareness about pests and pathogens and improve professional practices.
The survey about tree pests and pathogens was conducted among 63 respondents from Serbia with an almost equal gender balance and an age range from 18 to 49 years. We could conclude that the current level of public awareness regarding tree pests and diseases, their pathways of introduction and the effectiveness of the dissemination of knowledge are currently low or very low. Continued and increased efforts are needed to achieve the level of public knowledge and awareness which could support governmental measures and responsible behaviour related to plant health issues. They should be aimed at citizens, hobby horticulturists, vocational secondary schools and university level education. A system of approach is required to enable the valuable scientific resources already available to meet the needs of public users. It would also be beneficial to provide an opportunity for experienced tree professionals, social scientists and educational and IT experts to contribute to the better communication and transfer of knowledge. This would better meet the requirements of effective biosecurity practices among diverse stakeholders and improve their knowledge and awareness about tree pests and pathogens.
This research has been completed within the framework of research in Projects III43002 and III43007, supported by The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and COST Action FP1002 (PERMIT).