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EMPHASIS Report Summary

Project ID: 634179
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EMPHASIS (Effective Management of Pests and Harmful Alien Species - Integrated Solutions)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

EMPHASIS (Effective Management of Pests and Harmful Alien Species – Integrated Solutions) will address native and alien threats (insects, pathogens and weeds) in a range of both agricultural and natural ecosystems (field and protected crops, orchards, ornamental plants and forests).
The overall goal is to ensure a global food security system and to promote the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the frameworks of agriculture, horticulture and forestry, by developing integrated response measures to predict and prevent native and alien threats. The effectiveness of the solutions will be assessed, validated and transferred to ensure that they are in agreement with end-users’ needs and capacities.

The specific objectives are:
• To predict, prioritise and plan: pest and pathogen management challenges and opportunities will be evaluated according to stakeholder-focused criteria and using pathway analyses.
• To prevent: end-users will be provided with practical solutions and tools for pest and pathogen surveillance and monitoring.
• To protect: improved practical solutions and innovative integrated measures will be developed, their technical and economic feasibility will be demonstrated and their market uptake enhanced.
• To promote: a mutual learning process involving end-users.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Project activities carried out during the reporting period, are summarised below.

An Analytical Framework based on a DPSIR model was developed to determine Driving forces, Pressures, States, Impacts and Responses. The Analytical Framework is applied to an agent, pathway and receptor based risk framework (Pathway Risk Analysis) derived from the EPPO PRA (European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization Pest Risk Analysis) scheme to identify priority risks. A Learning Platform was developed to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration and encourage shared learning across the project. The Learning Platform comprises three key activities: 1) conducting research on stakeholder perspectives and practices and potential economic, environmental, and social impacts; 2) conducting Socio-technological Learning Labs (SLLs) to assist the co-design of economically, environmentally and socially acceptable technologies; 3) supporting the learning within and between WPs and with stakeholders to create a lasting legacy. An Evaluation Framework has been developed to assess the results of the project. Stakeholder engagement activities were undertaken through two surveys and a workshop held in Brussels, on June 1st 2016.

Target monitoring techniques (LAMP assays), biological surveillance tools (sentinel plots and plants) and untargeted metagenomics surveillance techniques are currently underway.
LAMP (loop mediated isothermal amplification) assays have been developed to provide species level detection and identification of target organisms identified in WP1. Sentinel plots and plants have been successfully established. With reference to untargeted metagenomics surveillance techniques, a range of different metabarcoding approaches has been tested.

Practical solutions for effective protection, management and eradication of native and alien threats (insects, pathogens and weeds) are currently under development through: 1) identifying new macro- and microbiological control agents and new procedures to implement their use in IPM practices, 2) finding new host plant resistance sources, new resistance traits and novel procedures to improve durability of resistant plant varieties/cultivars, 3) improving current cultural practices and introducing new ones to increase environmental resistance to pest population build up or to favor habitat and environment conditions for the activity of natural enemies, 4) improving chemical control sustainability and 5) further developing of novel techniques for the more efficient application of semiochemicals (e.g. pheromones).

In order to allow the application of innovative practical solutions by end-users, advisory services, SMEs and farmers groups, on-farm validation experiments and product development are being carried out in the project participating countries for: 1) vegetable crops, 2) orchards, 3) forests, 4) arable crops and 5) weeds.

The WP5 ensured the effective and efficient spread of the EMPHASIS results to a wide public through the dissemination of the project leaflets and posters. Further on, a project website has been developed and launched: The WP5 promotes the mutual learning process and the systematic exchange of information and good practices for effectively using research findings and harmonize expertise across the Partner consortium. Concerning the training component, the WP5 is building up awareness and compliance with practical solutions for the effective management of native and alien pests and pathogens affecting plants, for those with responsibilities and interest in all contexts of the ag

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

"EMPHASIS adopts the ""three-stage hierarchical approach"" advocated by the Convention on Biological Diversity with support measures based on identification of challenges and prioritisation of objectives, prevention and early detection and control and long-term containment.

• effective solutions for the prevention and management of native and invasive alien pest and pathogen species;
• scientific support for the development of relevant EU policies;
• significant economic gains/avoided losses for European agricultural and forest systems;
• science-based tools for improving the productivity and resilience of agricultural and forest systems in the context of changing environmental conditions;
• impact on a range of agricultural and forest productions and risk management practices.

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