Welcome for new GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy

The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) supports the new GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy. It sets out a new vision for the next five years.

By Wendy Necar · January 9, 2023

The RFS is one of 30 signatories of the new Public Engagement in Plant Health Accord. This Accord supports the GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy  to raise awareness of plant health across Great Britain. Other signatories include the Woodland Trust and National Trust.

Launching the Strategy, 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.  This Strategy will position Great Britain as a global leader in plant biosecurity and set an example for the world to follow.”

RFS Chief Executive Christopher Williams commented:” We all have a collective responsibility to protect plant health. By working together we can reduce and manage risks posed by plant pests and pathogens, and facilitate safe trade.

“ Our own Grants for Resilient Woodlands already require recipients to provide details of nursery and assurance schemes for biosecurity of purchased trees.

“ We particularly welcome a commitment in the Strategy to strengthen and enhance the core research and surveillance programmes for plant health. This includes sustained investment in critical capability at the Forestry Commission, Fera Science Ltd and Forest Research.”

An action plan will deliver against four key outcomes;

  • A world class biosecurity regime
  • A society that values healthy plants
  • A biosecure supply chain
  • An enhanced technical capability

Key actions include further work to develop the UK Plant Health Risk Register to improve understanding of complex and cumulative risks to plant health.

New plant health IT systems will also be developed to support the needs of outbreak readiness, emergency response an information sharing.

The Strategy  has been developed in partnership with industry, landowners, non-government organisations, the scientific community and the wider public.

Defra will publish a new research priorities document in 2023.

Find out more about how we are supporting foresters with grants to adapt to climate change here