Emerging diseases in European forest ecosystems and responses in society
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New diseases in forest ecosystems have been reported at an increasing rate over the last century. Some reasons for this include the increased disturbance by humans to forest ecosystems, changed climatic conditions and intensified international trade. Although many of the contributing factors to the changed disease scenarios are anthropogenic, there has been a reluctance to control them by legislation, other forms of government authority or through public involvement. Some of the primary obstacles relate to problems in communicating biological understanding of concepts to the political sphere of society. Relevant response to new disease scenarios is very often associated with a proper understanding of intraspecific variation in the challenging pathogen. Other factors could be technical, based on a lack of understanding of possible countermeasures. There are also philosophical reasons, such as the view that forests are part of the natural ecosystems and should not be managed for natural disturbances such as disease outbreaks. Finally, some of the reasons are economic or political, such as a belief in free trade or reluctance to acknowledge supranational intervention control. Our possibilities to act in response to new disease threats are critically dependent on the timing of efforts. A common recognition of the nature of the problem and adapting vocabulary that describe relevant biological entities would help to facilitate timely and adequate responses in society to emerging diseases in forests.