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Tree Wardens

New national Plant Biosecurity Strategy launched

The Tree Council

January 9, 2023

The Tree Council today welcomes a new action plan to protect plants from pests and diseases, published by Defra in partnership with the Forestry Commission and the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

The Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain sets out a five-year vision for plant health, consisting of an action plan to secure national biosecurity, protect native species and drive economic growth.

It positions the UK as a global leader in plant biosecurity, setting out our vision to create a new biosecurity regime and bio-secure plant supply chain, which will safeguard food security and help mitigate the effects of climate change. It comes following updated figures which show that plants provide an annual value of £15.7 billion to the United Kingdom.

The Tree Council CEO Sara Lom said: “The Tree Council was created nearly 50 years ago in response to Dutch elm disease and now leads activity into the devastating impacts of ash dieback. From first-hand experience, we know that effective biosecurity is vital in defence of Britain’s trees and plants.

“We welcome the launch of the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain and look forward to working with Defra and partners to protect our treescape.”

Access The Tree Council’s ash dieback resources and guidance here

Access The Tree Council’s Oak Processionary Moth resources and guidance here

Specific actions include expanding the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Internet Trading Unit to step up monitoring of online retailers and social media sites for the trade of high-risk plant products, in order to stop potentially devastating pests and diseases from entering the country.

Additionally, the strategy sets out how more than 30 signatories, including Defra, the Royal Horticultural Society, National Farmers Union and the Woodland Trust, will deliver an ambitious programme of behavioural change across society through the Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord. This one-of-a-kind collective commitment will kickstart a national conversation around biosecurity and promote the actions that the public can take to protect tree and plant health.

Ash dieback affecting new growth

Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said: “Plant pests and diseases know no borders. As the global trade in plants and plant products continues to grow, our precious ecosystems, native species and biosecurity are at risk. The resultant threats posed to our treescapes, food security and the global economy are all too real.

“Therefore, 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.”

For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-biosecurity-strategy-to-protect-food-security-trade-and-plant-health.

You can find the full Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain (2023 to 2028) document by visiting: www.gov.uk/government/publications/plant-biosecurity-strategy-for-great-britain-2023-to-2028

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