Working groups of the COST Action


The work on the Tasks will be organised in four Working Groups, each of which will focus on specific tasks:

  • WG1 Prioritisation of tree species for sentinel nurseries (tasks 1 & 2),

  • WG2 Standardised monitoring protocols for pests and diseases of sentinel trees (tasks 3, 4 & 5),

  • WG3 Regulation of sentinel nurseries and the collation of results for use in PRA (tasks 6 & 7)

  • WG4 Dissemination.

The SG will allocate WG membership of experts to encourage the establishment of new contacts between researchers and PRA experts and will oversee progress, exchange of information between WGs and identify relevant end-users and information needs and resources.

WG1 : Prioritisation of tree species for sentinel nurseries


Leader Dr Roel Potting, co-leader Prof Steve Woodward


The choice of trees to plant in sentinel nurseries or monitor in arboreta or botanical gardens may depend on the identity of the species that are imported into Europe, the origin, season and volume of those imports, or the likelihood that these or related species provide a pathway for pests or diseases that attack native European trees. In addition, the environmental or socio-economic value of the native tree species may also be a reason to monitor that particular, or related species more or less intensively.


The information required for decisions about inclusion of tree species in an early warning system, or for use in PRA, is not readily available. Measures and measurements of ecological importance of individual tree species are rare and the socio-economic value of trees, even if known for some individual species or countries, cannot be found in a single database. In this WG two databases will be constructed that bring together detailed data on the international trade (i.e. European imports) in live trees for as many countries and years as possible and quantitative measures for the importance of native trees in Europe. The information in these databases will be valuable not only for the selection of tree species for an early warning system, but also for prioritisation of pathways for risk analysis.



T.1. Characterise intercontinental trade in tree species

T.2. Characterise the importance of native tree species



D.1. Database of genus-level intercontinental trade in live trees

D.2. Database of environmental importance of European tree species


WG2: Standardised monitoring protocols for pests and diseases of sentinel trees


Leader Dr Alain Roques, co-leaders Prof Milka Glavendekic and Dr Michelle Cleary


Techniques used for monitoring of trees in the exporting country, whether in sentinel nurseries, botanical gardens or arboreta, and their execution in a standardised manner, as well as the methods used for the detection and identification of pests and diseases are decisive factors determining the usefulness of early warning systems. However, it is also essential that the results of the monitoring efforts provide the information required by experts to prioritise and carry out PRA. The experts from the phytosanitary community and the researchers in this WG will make an inventory of the information required and available for PRA and pathway risk analysis, also drawing on, and interacting with experts from WG1. In order to select the most appropriate monitoring and identification protocols, experts in this WG will collate an overview of available techniques, for a range of organism types. Based on real and hypothetical examples, including some where host jumps have occurred, the WG will explore ways to prioritise tree pests and diseases for PRA and will suggest preferred methods for prioritisation.



T.3. Identify data requirements for pathway risk analysis

T.4. Collate identification tools and monitoring techniques for tree pests and diseases

T.5. Propose prioritisation methods for tree pests and diseases for risk analysis



D.3. Proposals for a standardised design of sentinel nurseries, protocols for monitoring and identification of tree pests and diseases and a method to prioritise tree pests and diseases found in sentinel nurseries for risk analysis


WG3: Regulation of sentinel nurseries and the collation of results for use in PRA


Leader Prof Jean-Claude Grégoire, co-leaders Prof Rumen Tomov and Dr Alberto Santini

Regulations of the countries where sentinel nurseries could be established affect whether it is possible to import seed (as opposed to the less preferred option of using seeds available from sources within the country), the quantity that can be imported, and whether treatments and other phytosanitary measures that must be applied. These possibilities and restrictions vary between countries and special regulations or conditions for scientific purposes may apply. An overview of import regulations for seeds for planting, including the rules for outside planting of trees grown from these seeds, will be made for as many countries as possible. This should facilitate the selection of locations for and preparation of future sentinel nurseries, which will be of reciprocal benefit, as non-COST countries will be able to use this information for the implementation of sentinel nurseries in locations and with species that are most relevant to them. Experiences of NPPOs and importers with the import of seeds and planting of exotic tree species will be collected through interviews with the relevant stakeholders.


The collected data may be sensitive and it is important that these sensitivities are taken into account when designing and implementing an early warning system based on sentinel nurseries. Ways to deal with the collected monitoring data, to ensure that the NPPO of the country is always informed, and how the data can be made available to importing countries will be explored.



T.6. Identify and analyse national legislation on the import of seeds of exotic tree species and their use for scientific purposes in open-field situations

T.7. Collate experiences with the implementation of such legislation and open-field experiments



D.4. Database of national legislation for import of seeds of exotic tree species for scientific purposes


WG4: Dissemination


Leaders: Prof. Justyna Nowakowska (Poland) and Richard O'Hanlon (Ireland)


The outcomes of the Action will be presented to stakeholders, including the research and phytosanitary communities, the live pant industry and the general public. A dedicated, open-access Action website will be established at the outset and newsletters and other dissemination activities added promptly. Further dissemination will be through scientific publications and oral/poster presentations at conferences and more informal meetings, interactions with the NPPOs of participating countries (representatives other than those involved in the Action), and articles in appropriate trade journals. An international workshop or conference, including proceedings, will be organised in the last year of the Action.



D.5. International workshop/conference

D.6. Project website

You can find additional information on the COST webpage




A copy of the Action's Memorandum of Understanding can be found here



COST is supported by the EU RTD Framework Programme