Great Britain to become pioneer in plant biosecurity after Defra announces five year plant health plan
Great Britain is to become a world pioneer in plant biosecurity after Defra announces five year plant health plan
Defra has today announced The Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, a new five year plan to try to protect plant health in the UK.
The plan aims to create a new bio-secure plant supply chain, to safeguard food security and help mitigate the effects of climate change. Online retailers and social media sites will see increased monitoring for trading in high-risk plant products.
The strategy includes working with UK Plant Health Alliance to develop a new five-year roadmap for the Plant Healthy certification scheme, which provides biosecurity certification to nurseries, businesses and charities operating in the horticultural sector. RHS Harlow Carr has been named as the first public garden in England as Plant Healthy and aims to become biosecurity neutral by 2025.
Over 30 bodies, including the Royal Horticultural Society, National Farmers Union and the Woodland Trust, have come together to work on the Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord. The collective will promote actions that the public can take to protect tree and plant health and start a national conversation around plant health.
The UK Plant Health Risk Register, which currently lists 1,200 pests and diseases of potential threat to our biosecurity, will be enhanced with improved understanding of risks to plant health while outbreak preparedness and emergency response will be bolstered.
Lord Benyon, minister for biosecurity, said: “This landmark strategy sets out how we will protect Great Britain’s plants, with the government, industry and the public working together to tackle the risks posed by plant pests and diseases. In light of climate change, tackling these varied and mounting risks will be critical to maintaining our food security, as well as facilitating safe trade amidst a challenging economic backdrop.
Figures show that plants provide an annual value of £15.7 billion to the United Kingdom. Managing ash dieback is estimated to cost £15 billion, while eradicating a small outbreak of Asian Longhorn Beetle in Kent in 2012 will have cost around £2 million.
Nicola Spence, UK chief plant health officer, said: “I am proud to officially launch the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, which will deliver a step change in our plant health protections, actions and behaviours. This will position Great Britain as a global leader in plant biosecurity and set an example for the world to follow.”