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BY MICHAEL BARKER

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Key principles for Scottish plant health unveiled

Advice aims to help protect Scotland's plant resources from the threat of novel pests and diseases

Key principles for Scottish plant health unveiled

The emerald ash borer is not yet in the UK but remains a threat Photo: Kent Loeffler, Cornell University

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Scotland's Plant Health Centre has launched a set of five key principles outlining steps to protect Scotland’s plant resources.

To coincide with UK Plant Health Week from 19-27 September and to highlight the growing risks that novel pests and diseases pose to the environment, the group announced the steps that should be taken to protect domestic flora.

They are: 

- Source plants with care: Human movement of plants is an important pathway for spreading pests and diseases, which may hitchhike on plants, in seed, soil and packaging;

- Keep it clean: Biosecurity best practice can reduce the spread and establishment of plant pests and diseases. These organisms may be microscopic and can easily go unnoticed;

- Plan now for future challenges: Designing, modifying and managing systems to increase their resilience can reduce the impacts of pests and pathogens in future;

- Embed plant health in policies and practices: Developing consistent practices, incentives, guidance and regulation can minimise the risk of outbreaks and their consequences;

- Promote widespread understanding and awareness of plant health threats: Informed individuals and businesses can minimise threats to plant health and reduce the unwanted impacts of pests and diseases.

These principles will be the focus of a series of short stories, released over the course of UK Plant Week, to bring the principles to life and celebrate Scotland’s plant-based assets. These began going live on the Plant Health Centre website on 19 September.

Professor Ian Toth, director of Scotland’s Plant Health Centre, said: “Plant diseases don’t respect borders and cause problems across all plant species, from iconic forest trees to the smallest of wild flowers and taking in ornamentals, garden plants and all our crop species as they go.

"With thousands of plant species in Scotland and 1,000 novel pests and diseases listed on the UK plant health risk register, there has never been a more crucial time to pool resources and bring scientists and land users together to act.

“We hope those with a need to consider plant health, from mass planting of trees or best garden practice, will find our key principles useful. The principles will be the focus of resources published during the UK Plant Health Week, touching on diverse Scottish plant health topics, so keep an eye on our website www.planthealth.scot for updates.”

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