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Preface Annex 1
OPPORTUNITIES AND RISKS
TERMITES THREATEN INFRASTRUCTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
In many African countries, termites present a huge problem, threatening both infrastructure and food production and thus directly affecting human well-being and the potential for economic growth. Termites also pose significant threats to other goods including household furniture, paper products, many synthetic materials and food items. Globally, each year, hundreds of thousands of structures (bridges, dams, decks, homes, retaining walls, roads, utility poles, and underground cables and pipes) require treatment for the management of termites (UNEP/FAO/Global IPM Facility Expert Group on Termite Biology and Management 2003).
Africa has high termite diversity of about 1 000 different species, reflecting its topological and climatological diversity. In particular, the tropical forests of Central Africa and all of the countries in Southern Africa contain diverse and abundant termite fauna. Genera infesting wooden structures include Reticulitermes, Coptotermes, Psammotermes (Family Rhinotermitidae), Anacanthotermes (Hodotermitidae), and several species of Kalotermitidae. Mound-building species occur throughout most of the African landscape. Some species have been transported over much of Africa due to commerce and nomadic migration (UNEP/FAO/Global IPM Facility Expert Group on Termite Biology and Management 2003).
Some species directly threaten agricultural systems, as shown in Box 2. There are approximately 20-50 damaging termite species in savannah and forest ecosystems in the family Termitidae. The majority of species feed on plant material, living or dead, dung or soil rich in organic material. The greatest pest potential exists within the subfamily Macrotermitinae, which has a symbiotic association with the fungus Termitomyces (UNEP/ FAO/Global IPM Facility Expert Group on Termite Biology and Management 2003). The most economically important genera throughout Africa are Macrotermes, Odontotermes, Pseudacanthotermes, Ancistrotermes and Microtermes. These differ characteristically in their biology and mode of attack (UNEP/FAO/Global IPM Facility Expert Group on Termite Biology and Management 2003):
Termite control measures vary considerably across Africa, and range from manual removal of queens and nests by hand, to soil applications (topical and injection) with termicides, to baiting. For termites that attack dry wood, fumigation with methyl bromide and topical and subsurface chemical injections are the standard practice. Chlordane is widely used. The costs associated with chemical use are extensive and include (Mörner and others 2002):
Alternatives to chemical use vary in efficiency depending on climatic factors and the species. It is imperative given the agreements under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Stockholm Convention) for countries to begin to develop management systems based on alternatives. Alternatives include improved building practices such as building design (site preparation, construction and regular building maintenance and inspections), physical barriers, using preservative treated timber, space fumigation, baiting systems, thermal and biological control, and safer chemicals (UNEP/FAO/Global IPM Facility Expert Group on Termite Biology and Management 2003). In general, however, changing from one chemical to another is not a long-term solution (UNEP/FAO/Global IPM Facility Expert Group on Termite Biology and Management 2003).
Complete prevention and eradication of termites is not a plausible management objective; instead the focus should be on better management, and on reducing the costs to people and the environment. Successful termite management is a process that includes the talents of construction, pest management, and building management professionals. Lastly, termite management systems are most successful and least expensive when implemented pre-construction. Conversely, they are often less successful and more expensive post-construction.