Sciencelogo for international year of plant health

As tree lovers, we at The Tree Council know just how important plants are. They produce up to 80% of our food and 98% of our oxygen, they remove pollution, absorb carbon, cool our towns, provide a home for wildlife, lower our stress levels and much more.

But many UK plant species are under threat: 40 percent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases each year, and the fungal disease ash dieback may infect up to 90% – 125 million – of the UK’s ash trees. New threats emerge over time, such as Xylella and Oak Processionary Moth. So, it is vital that we do everything we can to keep British plants healthy and free from pests and disease, ensuring they have an environment that allows them to thrive – not just for their sake, but for ours too!

Plant Health Week 2020

As part of International Year of Plant Health, Defra is hosting the UK’s first Plant Health Week from 21– 27 September 2020, in collaboration with key organisations in the plant and forestry sectors. The week will raise awareness of plant health threats and the actions people can take to keep our plants healthy.

Speaking about Plant Health Week, Minister for Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner, said, “Climate change and increasing globalisation has huge implications for the health of the world’s plants, which is why in the UN designated International Year of Plant Health, we are holding the UK’s first Plant Health Week.

“This week will help raise awareness of the risks that our plants face, and I encourage everyone – from retailers and nurseries, to gardeners and children – to support this campaign and glean helpful tips on how to keep our plants healthy, by practicing good biosecurity.

“From the biggest forests and national parks, to what we plant in our own gardens, we need to celebrate this beautiful rich tapestry we see in everyday life and help protect the nation’s trees and plants from harmful pest and diseases.”

Each day of the week will be themed around a key area, including safe sourcing and biosecurity.

  1. LOOK AFTER the plants you have in your home or garden. Different plants have different needs so make sure you inspect them regularly and ensure the very basics are met – that they have the right type of soil and the right amount of sunlight and water.
  2. BUY RESPONSIBLY. Make sure you source your plants from reputable nurseries and suppliers and check the plant’s origin. Certain species should not be grown in the UK, getting your plants from a reputable supplier is one of the best ways to ensure that your plants are suitable and won’t spread diseases or pests!
  3. CLEAN YOUR BOOTS before and after going out and about in woodlands and parks to help limit the spread of potentially devastating plant diseases.
  4. DON’T RISK IT: If you are planning to travel abroad in the coming months – don’t bringing back plants and cuttings from your holidays and trips abroad, as doing so risks bringing in a plant pest or disease. Foreign plant diseases can be catastrophic to local ecosystems and it would only take
  5. LOOK OUT for any unusual symptoms on trees and plants and report them to the Forestry Commission’s Tree Alert website or the Animal and Plant Health Agency. It’s easy to do and you can help inform expert research so the right protective action can be taken to tackle pests and diseases.
  6. BOOST YOUR WELLBEING This one is easy! Get out and about and enjoy green spaces – a local park, woodland or your garden. Just being in nature can lower stress and help us take a step back from the busyness of our world. In addition, using our local green spaces makes us more likely to be champions for them. Make sure you make the most of it, and encourage others to do so too!

The Horticultural Association are getting the nation planting through their Million Planting Moments campaign which is being launched during Plant Health Week. Follow hashtags #PlantHealthWeek and #IYPH2020 to see more exciting content appearing from Defra, Forestry Commission and others over the course of the week.

Join us online on Saturday 26 September

To mark 30 tree-mendous years of Tree Wardening this September, The Tree Council is hosting a conference, uniting Tree Wardens and other dedicated volunteers across the UK to celebrate this remarkable achievement. This anniversary also coincides with Plant Health Week and we’re taking the opportunity to focus on the health of our trees and the vital part that we must all play in protecting the nation’s treescape.

All are invited to join The Tree Council’s annual conference and you can reserve your free ticket here.

During the event, you will hear from:

  • Chief Plant Health Officer, Professor Nicola Spence
  • Environmentalist and Author, Jonathan Drori
  • Forest Research & the Observatree team
  • The Tree Council will also share new initiatives for tree wardens looking ahead to the next 30 years.

We look forward to seeing you there!