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2010, Santini et al., 2012). As a result of human activity, alien pests and diseases are exported out of their natural environment by following their hosts e.g. plants for planting or a variety of commodities (Glavendekic and Roques, 2009). The trade and transportation of ornamental plants are recognised as the most important pathways for the introduction of alien pests. Research on the biological patterns and determinants of invasion by pathogens in Europe has been compiled into a large database on invasive forest pathogens. Alien forest pathogens were already being recorded in Europe from the period of 1830 to 1859 as affecting the health of forest trees together with cryptogenic and native European forest pathogens. Their influence on forest health increased over time and they were dominant in the period from 1920 to 2008. Moreover, besides the above mentioned times, in the period from 1980 – 2008 hybrid forest pathogens were also recorded (Santini et al., 2013). The recent publication by Matošević i Pajač Živković (2013) presents evidence that, in Croatia, there are 101 phytophagous alien species associated with woody plants. Although only 15% of alien insects in Croatia invaded natural habitats, it is evident that more than a half of the invaded habitats represent agricultural land, followed by urban green infrastructure (parks and gardens) and woodland and forests.
This suggests that a tightly coordinated set of actions to combat new arrivals is needed. Tree professionals dealing with tree health or the growing of plants in nurseries have a key position in the pathways of introduction of alien tree pests and diseases. They are involved in actions such as inspections, monitoring and surveillance of pests and pathogens, tree purchasing, planning, silviculture and the maintenance of green infrastructure, which are crucial for plant health and the biosecurity of forests and urban greenery. It is expected that their knowledge and awareness of the significance of pests and diseases are both extensive and up to date.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
MATERIJALI I METODE
We used a self-completion questionnaire survey of visitors to Belgrade Fair on the occasion of The 19th International Horticulture Fair, April 3rd – 6th, 2014. Hard – copy questionnaires designed to assess public awareness were distributed by hand to visitors with a detailed explanation given by students of the Faculty of Forestry University of Belgrade. Respondents originated from various regions of Serbia, so the demographic distribution was somewhat uniform. About 70% of those visitors who were asked to complete the questionnaire accepted. The primary targets of the survey were randomly selected visitors to the fair, regardless of their profession. The main objective was to understand the public’s attitude towards tree diseases and pests through a survey of people involved in the horticulture sector, such as hobby gardeners, school teachers, students, nursery growers or other businesses related to trees and plants for planting.
The survey was initially designed by social researchers at the Forests Research Institute, Northern Research Station, Roslin & Alice Holt Lodge, Farnham, UK and then enhanced by specialists in forest entomology and pathology within the framework of the COST Action FP1201 (PERMIT). In order to compare the gathered data with previous research conducted in nine European countries, the set of questions was the same with the addition of specific pests relevant to Serbia. The survey consisted of 23 questions. Respondents were asked to make judgments about their own level of knowledge regarding selected pathogens and pests, the significance of trees and forests, the level of effectiveness of measures and policy related to tree health and to express their opinion about the likelihood of further introductions of pathogens and pests in Serbia. The survey was also designed to gather data regarding the sources of information on pathogens and pests and to show a willingness to share information and the demographics of respondents.
The gathered data was subjected to descriptive statistical information and tests. For some open questions which generated qualitative data, responses were given in the form of short text. Data was collected and analysed thematically, focusing on changing negative behaviours regarding tree health. Analysis of the questions focused on information about pathogens and pests, documenting the formats of information that respondents need and the most preferred format of that information.
Our research generated data from 63 respondents. Concerning their gender, 47% are males and 49% females, allowing gender balance to be respected. Only 4% did not answer the question regarding gender. Almost one half of respondents belong to the age group 18-29 years. The second largest group is 30-49 years, whilst respondents over 50 years make up less than 10 % of the survey (Figure 1).
The occupations of the respondents cover a diverse range. The majority are forestry engineers, horticulturists and agriculturists, landscape architects, nursery growers and floriculture growers whose occupations are close to the sector of ornamental horticulture and they attend horticulture fairs regularly because of their business. Included among those visitors of The 19th International Horticulture Fair who participated in the survey are other professions such as: vocational secondary school teacher, lawyer, mechanical engineer, geological engineer, technological engineer, economist,