You may be aware that Defra and the Forestry Commission launched the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan . In the last few years, a number of new tree and plant pests and pathogens have emerged as significant risks. Threats to tree health have increased with the globalisation of trade generally with a marked increase in the volume and diversity of plants and plant products entering the UK. This has increased the likelihood of plant pests and pathogens also being introduced, spreading through gardens and woodlands and potentially causing serious damage to either our native flora or commercial crops. Predicted climate change effects, such as warmer winters and changes in seasonal rainfall and storm patterns, may also increase the risk of pest establishment, spread and impact. In view of the rising threat to our trees, the Government has made preparing for and managing risk from plant disease a top priority.
These threats have been highlighted by an increasing number of plant pest and pathogen outbreaks in the UK, including for example, Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae affecting trees, heathland plants and heritage gardens; oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) with its associated threat to human health; and red band needle blight (Dothistroma septosporum).
A vital element of the Action Plan is to raise awareness about pest and disease threats to trees and the countryside and to provide people with information on a few simple precautions that we can all take to reduce the risk of spreading these pests and diseases.
Following on from the success of two posters, one for parks and gardens and one for nurseries and garden centres, we have produced a new poster aimed at the public’s recreational use of the countryside.
The poster is free to download from the Fera website at: http://www.fera.defra.gov.uk/plants/plantHealth/documents/countrysidePoster.pdf
Please make use of the poster in any way that you see fit e.g. erecting it at points of entry into public access areas, publicising it on your website, publishing it in your regular communications with staff and supporters, printing in your members’ magazines etc.