Defra shares overall approach to bee and plant health in new report

Defra has combined existing approaches to bee and plant health in one document for the first time to broaden the overall approach to pest and disease control.

The document reiterates a commitment to try and prevent plant and bee pests and diseases spreading in the wake of recent issues such as the Asian hornet and the red palm weevil.

The document describes how the government will manage an outbreak of serious pests or disease of plants. The existing strategy includes a commitment to develop effective contingency plans to help minimise or eradicate the impact when outbreaks occur.

A Defra representative said: "The document is designed to sit above existing approaches and create an approach which can be applied across the board."

The document describes how the government will manage an outbreak of a serious pest or disease of plants (including trees) in England. It is one of the actions for strengthening controls for tackling pests and diseases as set out in Protecting Plant Health – A Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain.

The UK Chief Plant Health Officer (CPHO) based in Defra has overall lead responsibility for contingency planning and co-ordination of the response in the event of a serious outbreak. The response will draw on the combined resources of the Plant Health Service (PHS) involving staff from Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA - primarily the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate (PHSI), Fera Science Ltd, Forestry Commission England (FCE) including Forest Services and Forest Research (FR), and the Forestry Commission (Cross Border) (FCCB) with close co-operation with relevant stakeholder representatives.

Two individual bee pest-specific contingency plans are in place; one covering Asian hornet and the second covering Small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps mites. Defra said it is incorporating these approaches to establish a more general contingency plan.

In the UK there are four notifiable pests and diseases. In addition to Small hive beetle and Tropilaelaps mite, there is American foulbrood and European foulbrood. Both of which are endemic in the UK and the National Bee Unit (NBU) has a management plans in place to control these diseases.

Defra added that while the document does not state a new approach, its purpose is to shed more light on the existing approaches in place and will help make the overall approach to bee and plant health more clear.


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