Updates about the Horticulture Wales project, along with industry news and opinion.

International Network Launched To Highlight New Tree And Plant Pests

25 October 2013

Plant health scientists from across Europe have joined forces in a new €400,000 initiative aiming to provide early warnings about new and emerging tree and plant diseases.

International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) launchOfficially launched at the fifth Global Botanic Gardens Congress held at Dunedin Botanic Garden in New Zealand earlier this month, the International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) will monitor European native plants that have been especially planted – or are already growing – overseas, particularly those grown in similar climates.

With the increasing globalisation of trade in plants over recent years, the spread of damaging plant pests and diseases such as chalara (ash dieback) and Phytophthora ramorum has intensified. The three-year IPSN project, which is being led by UK scientists from FERA, DEFRA’s Food and Environment Research agency, will look to develop a community of botanic gardens and arboreta around the world to gain a valuable insight into which pests and diseases pose the greatest threat of moving around the planet.

Other partners in the project, which has been funded through the EU plant health programme EUPHRESCO, include Forest Research Wales, the Julius Kuhn Insitut (JKI) in Germany, the National Plant Protection Organisation National Reference Laboratory in the Netherlands, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the scheme’s overall coordinator. BGCI’s Plant Search and Garden Search databases, which contain more than one million plant records, will be valuable tools in the development of the network.

Project Manager Dr Charles Lane explained:

“The project provides a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of future pest and disease threats to plants in different parts of the world.

“Scientists across the network will share knowledge and experience so that they can develop and pass on the skills to botanic gardens and arboreta. This will enable them to survey and identify damaging plant pests and diseases on these sentinel plants, and help highlight future threats.”

Dr John Grimshaw, of the Yorkshire Arboretum, added:

“It is a fantastic opportunity to use the rich diversity of trees here to help evaluate surveying methods to be used worldwide to develop early warning systems for plant pests and diseases of current and future concern.”

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