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

Biosecurity Strategy Unveiled To Safeguard Plant Health

09 May 2014

Horticulture Wales was on hand at the launch of a major new Britain-wide plan to strengthen plant biosecurity.

Plant Health (180px * 138px)Project Director Dr David Skydmore joined other stakeholders last month at the York headquarters of FERA (the Food and Environment Research Agency) for the publication of ‘Protecting Plant Health: A Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain’.

The action plan was unveiled by the recently appointed DEFRA Chief Plant Health Officer Prof Nicola Spence, who revealed the country was “moving from an oil-based to a plant-based economy” that would require a greater emphasis on plant health.

Developed with the full cooperation of the Welsh and Scottish Governments, the strategy focuses on plant pests and aims to meet the recommendations of the Independent Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce.

By 2020, it is hoped the strategy will have helped deliver a vision that will “protect plants from pests that have been identified as priorities for action, and to build awareness of the risks from pests, knowledge of how to reduce those risks and to introduce a system of management that will incentivise risk reduction”.

To achieve this, the report highlights the need for:

  • An effective and sustainable plant health service which makes risk-based decisions
  • Greater awareness of plant biosecurity among government, industry, NGOs, landowners and the public
  • Strengthened international regimes for safe movement of plant material in international trade to prevent the arrival of pests
  • Enhanced capability, capacity and collaboration in plant health with enhanced governance and systems in place to share information
  • New and enhanced technology and scientific tools to enable better detection of pests.
  • A resilient environment with species choice, design and management approaches ensuring we are more able to deal with pests which become established.

The document stresses that mitigating the risks posed by plant pests is not simply a matter for governments alone, and that plant importers, nurseries, landowners, and others in the industry have a part to play too.

As there are thousands of pests that can potentially pose a threat to plants, the strategy emphasises the need for a risk-based decision-making, highlighting the example of the recent introduction of an initial UK Plant Health Risk Register which rates the risks posed by over 650 pests and ranks them according to priorities for action.

The blueprint also outlines activities to minimise the risk of plant pests being brought into the country from overseas, such as strengthening inspection procedures of both EU and non-EU plant material at British borders, along with plans to ensure future disease outbreaks are managed effectively.

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