European Nurserystock Association discuss alien invasives at Bulgaria annual assembly

The European Nurserystock Association (ENA) General Assembly was held in Sofia, Bulgaria this month.

Delegates from 17 countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom)  discussing the main issues in the nursery sector.

The technical issue most discussed by the General Assembly was the EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (IAS).

Although the delegates recognised the extreme importance of controlling IAS, mostly species not yet present in Europe, and they foresaw the opportunity to plant other species and varieties, they had serious concerns on how the implementation of the IAS Regulation will be carried out.

As the first list of IAS species of Union Concern will be published very soon, it was decided to concentrate the efforts on the next list. It also seemed to ENA delegates from several countries that the EC is misusing the different types of lists specified in the Regulation and adding species to the list of IAS of Union concern instead of adding species to the lists of IAS of Regional concern or Member State concern.

It was agreed to contact the European Commission to express the worries of the nurserystock sector and to ask them to take a second look at the Regulation and review its practical application, because different management prevention strategies should be applied at different stages of the invasion by alien species. It was noted that the inclusion in the Union list of species that have been grown for decades won’t effectively prevent their adverse impact. It was also approved to cooperate with COPA·COGECA in this issue and, finally, ENA recommended that its members interact with the national experts of the Committee, the Scientific Forum and the Working Group on Invasive Alien Species from each member state.

Tatyana Boyadzhieva, vice-president of BAOPN -the Bulgarian Association of Ornamental Plants Nurseries welcomed all participants and highlighted the importance of working as a team to cope with common problems and to share knowledge of the nursery industry, looking for the best plant quality. She concluded by advocating greener cities in Europe.

Tom van Oorschot, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bulgaria, was also present at the meeting. He stressed that the urban agenda is a priority for the Dutch presidency of the EU, and highlighted implementing green cities as especially important because by 2050 up to 80 per cent of the population will live in cities.

Tsvetan Dimitrov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food of Bulgaria, offered the full support to the nursery sector explaining that although nursery production is a relatively new sector in Bulgaria, the trend is very positive as they have good knowledge, good climate and the support of the Plant Research Institute with a large plant collection. He ended emphasizing the importance of the Green City strategy for the benefit of the citizens and the environment, protecting the biodiversity in the cities and helping to mitigate climate change.

The General Assembly worked on the celebration of the 25th anniversary of ENA. It had already been decided to plant a tree in each country and the 19th October 2016 was the chosen date for a simultaneous planting in most countries. Each member organisation of ENA is already organising its event and has selected a tree, a city and a site. This Pan-European event will also be used by the nursery sector in each country to remind politicians of the importance of Green Cities in providing better living conditions for their citizens.

As planned after a two year term, the elections to President and Vice-president were held. Tim Edwards (Boningale Nurseries, United Kingdom) put himself forward to continue serving as President; Jan-Dieter Bruns (Bruns Pflanzen, Germany) presented his nomination as Vice-President, succeeding  Patrick Svensson (AB Björkhaga Plantskola, Sweden) and Willy De Nolf (Willy De Nolf Nursery, Belgium) volunteered to continue as Treasurer. All of them were unanimously elected by the General Assembly. 

Josep M. Pagès was renewed as Secretary General.

After the socialist era in Bulgaria, the ornamental nursery private sector boomed early this century and nowadays half of the Bulgarian nurseries are members of BAOPN (the Bulgarian Association of Ornamental Plants Nurseries). They produce a wide range of ornamental hardy woody plants all over the country and mainly in the region of Veliko Tarnovo and around Plovdiv. The General Assembly meeting was followed by a tour to several Bulgarian nurseries: Bulland Trade Ltd. and Nanovski Nursery in Bratanitza, Byanovi Ltd. in Stambolovo, Brit Rosaco JSC near Batak (Pavlikeni region) and Ekzotika Nursery in Biala Cherkva. In this final visit, the ENA President received the Key to the town of Pavlikeni from the hands of the Municipality of Pavlikeni’s mayor, Emanuil Manolov.

Most countries reported flat or improving sales in production, internal retail and amenity markets and export. The UK said production was up this year but would be equal in 2017.

The UK added that internal amenity markets were up and forecast more upward movement. France, Denmark and Hungary were depressed about exports.

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