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

New Chief Plant Health Officer Named

12 March 2014

A new senior figure has been appointed to help lead the UK’s fight against plant pests and diseases.

Professor Nicola Spence UK Chief Plant Health Officer Professor Nicola Spence has been named as DEFRA’s Chief Plant Health Officer by Environment Minister Lord de Mauley. She will take on the role, which had previously been held by Martin Ward, from the start of April.

The position will see Professor Spence advise policymakers and the wider industry about the risks posed by plant pests and diseases, and help to put in place the necessary measures to minimise such threats. The Chief Plant Health Officer will also lead the UK operational response to any future plant or tree disease outbreaks.

Professor Spence is a Special Professor in the Department of Biosciences at Nottingham University, a member of Court at the University of York and a Trustee of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She has a BSc in Botany from the University of Durham, an MSc in Microbiology from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Plant Virology from the University of Birmingham.

An expert in plant health and international plant trade, she was previously Chief Scientist at the Food and Environment Research Agency, and she joins DEFRA from the Science City York consortium.

Professor Spence commented: “I strongly believe that plants and trees are an essential economic, environmental and social resource and I look forward to working with colleagues and a broad range of partners to safeguard the future of our trees and plants.”

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