VIEWS ARE being sought on the creation of a new Plant Biosecurity Strategy to protect Britain from the threat of plant pests and diseases.

Farmers and land managers are amongst those who have been encouraged to help shape the future strategy, by feeding in to a 10-week public consultation which opened on Tuesday, September 21.

In the UK, 80% of the food which is consumed comes from plants, and the total value that plants and trees provide to society each year is estimated at £10.5 billion. As such, plant disease outbreaks can be hugely costly to businesses, government and the wider economy.

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But rising temperatures increase the risk that non-native pests and diseases, which were previously unable to survive in the UK, can now take a hold here. To address that threat, the joint Defra, Scottish and Welsh Government consultation sets out a new vision for plant health and potential measures to strengthen the existing biosecurity regime.

Specifically, farmers' views are sought on the effectiveness of current plant and tree health regulations; ways industry and the government can work together to support a biosecure plant supply chain and ensure the safe sourcing of planting stock; how we enhance the nation’s technical capability, using innovative science and technology to keep pace with emerging threats and ensure preparedness for the future; and tougher action to protect against biosecurity risks associated with trees susceptible to high-risk pests and diseases.

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Launching the consultation from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Minister for Biosecurity Lord Benyon said: “The threat from plant pests and diseases is significant and growing due to globalisation and climate change. The risks to food production and our precious landscapes, trees, parks and gardens are all too real.

“We already have some of the highest biosecurity standards in Europe but as we look to build back greener from the pandemic, we want to consider any further safeguards needed to protect our natural world," he continued. "That’s why we’re asking for views from all sectors, including horticulture, forestry and farming, to help us shape our future biosecurity strategy and ensure our trees and plants are protected for future generations.”

Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Land Reform Màiri McAllan added: “Plants underpin our environment, rural industries, wellbeing and biodiversity. With an ever increasing number of plant health threats, we need to work collaboratively to effectively shape our policies and safeguard against biosecurity risks in the years ahead. I would therefore encourage all stakeholders to contribute to that process by responding to this consultation.”

The consultation closes on November 30, 2021 and can be accessed via https://consult.defra.gov.uk/gb-plant-biosecurity-strategy/a-plant-biosecurity-strategy-for-great-britain/