HTA and RHS welcome environment committee's 'balanced' invasives report

The RHS and HTA have welcomed the Environmental Audit Committee report on Invasive non-native species as a "useful contribution to the debate around how best to manage the threat these species may pose, especially in light of developments in this area at national and EU level".

Invasive buddliea
Invasive buddliea

The HTA warned that the report may be damaging to the UK horticulture industry but Martin Emmett, who represented the HTA to the committee said: "We're pleased and relieved about what’s come out. There was a danger there would be a strong emphasis on control of horticultural crops over and above the framework we are currently working in that has been carefully structured by Defra’s risk analysis system.

"It's not just a plant but a pests and diseases issue and is as much about plant health as anything."

He said the committee could have decided to listen to ecologists which could have encouraged them to blacklist or 'whitelist' potentially invasive plants "but they haven’t and the conclusions are consistent with processes largely in place with Defra's pest-risk analysis approach".

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "The report shows a balanced approach. We were seriously worried about a levy on imported plants."

The RHS said: "We particularly welcome the report’s recognition that a targeted ‘blacklist’ is the most pragmatic approach when assessing the risk posed by a particular species. Further, the committee’s call for greater transparency in the listing process for species of national concern, with agreed criteria, and that the listing process is regularly updated would be positive steps forward if accepted by the Government.

"While we agree that the risk assessment process needs streamlining, we do feel that for any risk assessment process to be successful it is vitally important that the correct species are identified. The consequence of the incorrect naming of the target species can include the diversion of scarce resources, both financial and human, away from the real threat and potentially result in inappropriate control measures."

It added: "There is an important recognition within the report that resources have to be used more wisely than they have been in the past, a position the RHS wholeheartedly supports. This is reflected in the common sense stance in Recommendation 23, that those invasive species where no clear desired outcomes can be established should be removed from the national list.

"The RHS supports the ambition of the report and will continue its work in fostering responsible horticultural practice, and is keen to share information and insight into how best to manage the threat posed by invasive non-native plants."

The full report can be read here:

See more in HW magazine published 2 May.

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