Phytophthora control targets "will not now be met", Defra admits

Larch affected by Phytophthora ramorum - image: Forestry Commission
Larch affected by Phytophthora ramorum - image: Forestry Commission
An internal review of Defra's Phytophthora Disease Management Programme (PDMP) has highlighted numberous failings, and has concluded that the programme's aim of minimising inoculum levels of Phytophthora ramorum and P. kernoviae in English and Welsh trees, "will not now be met within the time scale".

The spread of Phytophthora infection to larch was the main factor in the failure to meet this aim, the review said.

But it also pointed to "significant issues" hindering the effectiveness of PDMP, including problems with recruitment and training, incompatible data recording systems, delays in funding, "poor initial engagement" by environmental bodies, and slow translation of research findings into clear guidance.

However it found that "knowledge and experience gained and lessons learned from the PDMP have underpinned the recent Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and ash dieback campaigns", and added: "All the benefits of the PDMP would be lost if funding stopped at this stage."

The five-year PDMP was established in April 2009 with a budget of £23.5 million, and has been implemented by Fera and the Forestry Commission.

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