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Citizen participation and ‘sentinel’ gardens at the core of UK strategy for biosecurity

Jan 13, 2023 | News

Gardeners and citizens should step up their engagement to curb the import of plant pests and diseases, Britain’s chief plant officer said. As the new Great Britain Plant Biosecurity Strategy 2023-28 enters into forces, The Times reports that the Chief Plant Health Officer and Deputy Director for plant and bee health at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Nicola Jane Spence encouraged gardeners “to be aware of what they’re buying” in nurseries and garden centers, “where has it has come from, and ask questions”. The officer also called the citizens to report unusual signs or symptoms on trees via the online Tree-Alert service run by the Forest Research.

A Plant Healthy certification scheme is available for British nurseries and public gardens in recognition of the work done to stop the spread of plant disease and invasive species. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Harlow Carr has been the first public garden in England to be certified as such.

According to the RHS press release, “actions taken at RHS Garden Harlow Carr will help safeguard against the spread of global diseases such as Xylella fastidiosa, which has not yet reached the UK but has significantly impacted the horticultural industry and crops including olives and citrus in parts of mainland Europe, and non-native invasive species like the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) which could severely damage crops, fruit trees and lawns should it reach the UK.”

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