Notifiable pests & diseases

Import controls and nursery inspections are crucial tools for keeping stock healthy and enabling sales.

For growers of rosacea subjects that are subject to fireblight, the annual inspection is a part of normal nursery life and the much coveted buffer zone status gained enables sales to the UK and Europe. With no Government compensation payable on plants destroyed - unlike farm animals - notifiable pests and diseases affect the bottom line of all nursery or landscape businesses.

In an effort to maintain our plant stock as free from new pests and diseases as possible, import controls are increasingly used along with nursery inspections after imports. If found, plants are issued with an order that can demand they are sent back to the supplier or destroyed. In addition to those measures they can be accompanied by the destruction or delayed selling of surrounding plants. In some cases where the problem is active on a wide number of species this can be quite extensive and long term.

It is therefore in everyone's interest to abide by the regulations concerning notifiable pests and diseases because the actions of one individual business can end up affecting many others in the same area quite quickly.

Plant Health Risk Register

The UK has a Plant Health Risk Register detailing some 824 pests and diseases that could enter the UK and have commercial significance. Of the total there are 29 that have widespread presence and 105 that have limited or unknown presence in the UK. Fortunately, there are still 658 that are absent from our shores and we would aim to keep it that way. The full risk register can be downloaded at https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/phiw/riskregister.

Over the past few years we have seen the number of notifiable pests and diseases increase quite dramatically, with some notable examples being Chalara fraxinea, a new bacteria on laurels, Xanthomonas arboricola pv. Pruni, Asian longhorn beetle, Tuta absoluta, spotted wing drosophila, tobacco whitefly and the current Xylella fastidiosa concerns. Many of the notifiable pests and diseases have information sheets available online at http://fera.co.uk/plantclinic/plantpestdiseasefactsheets.cfm.

There are several official channels that must be taken when importing or exporting plants both inside and outside the EU. These are in place to protect growers from unknowingly bringing in new pests or diseases as well as to maintain a healthy UK plant stock.

Under the plant passporting arrangements, growers who market or buy in plants listed on the plant health website require registration with Defra at www.gov.uk/guidance/issuing-plant-passports-to-trade-plants-in- the-eu#after-youre-authorised. The full list of plants is available online at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/ 417907/guide-plant-passporting.pdf.

Import registration process

The whole process of import registration can be carried out online using the eDomero system, an internet-based facility that enables those requiring plant health services to apply for them without the need for paper applications. The services that can be applied for include exporting, plant passporting, potato classification, certification and import licensing. See http://edomero.defra.gov.uk/default.aspx? menu=menu&module=home.

The PEACH system - the "procedure for electronic application for certificates from the HMI"

- is used to obtain a certificate of conformity from the Rural Payments Agency's Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate. All consignments of regulated produce from outside the EC must have a certificate of conformity before entering the EC.

If a notifiable pest or disease is found on a nursery or landscape site after either a statutory or spot-check visit by a plant health officer, then it is usual for a plant health order to be issued. This would state steps to eradicate the pest or disease.

Plant biosecurity posters are available for nurseries, parks and gardens and woodland areas. These give good information to raise awareness about pest and disease threats to trees and to provide owners and contractors with advice on the best practices to minimise the risk of introducing pests and diseases into woodlands and to reduce the risk of spreading them further. The three posters can be downloaded at:

Protect your woodland: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/Poster_Forestry_Biosecurity_2013.pdf/$FILE/Poster_Forestry_Biosecurity_2013.pdf

Protect your nursery or garden centre: http://www.the-hta.org.uk/file.php?fileid=1457

Protect your garden: http://plantnetwork.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/0/parksgardensbiosecurityposter.pdf

Fully updated by Dove Associates

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