Scotland launches Plant Health Strategy to meet growing pest and disease challenge

The Scottish Government has published a Plant Health Strategy, setting out its approach to protecting the health of agricultural and horticultural crops, as well as plants in parks and gardens, forestry and in the wild.

Image: Manuel Farnlacher
Image: Manuel Farnlacher

This strategy aims to demonstrate the importance of safeguarding Scottish plant health to protect and enhance Scotland's economy and natural environment; indicate how Scotland will take forward the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain; and ensure Scottish Government and stakeholders work together to protect plant health in Scotland.

It puts the case for the appointment of a Scottish Chief Plant Health Officer, and the establishment of a Centre of Expertise for Plant Health in Scotland.

Scotland's environment minister Dr Aileen McLeod said: "This strategy rightly places healthy plant life firmly at the heart of Scotland's thriving natural environment, our rural economy and our well-being.

"Increased globalisation of trade means we have to prioritise our biosecurity and do everything possible to safeguard agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the wider environment from plant pests. Government alone cannot achieve this; we're looking for everyone to play their part."

Welcoming the move, James Hutton Institute chief executive Professor Colin Campbell said: "There is much opportunity in greater coordination of the research, policy and industry to get all players working together to meet the threats of emergent new diseases, to develop of more nature-based solutions and to face up to climate change."

Plant health is one of the Institute's six research themes. Research theme leader Professor Ian Toth added: "Weeds, pests and diseases cause major reductions in crop yields if uncontrolled. Novel and sustainable strategies are needed to manage or counter these threats. The new Plant Health Centre will help ensure better coordination of effort."

The full strategy can be downloaded here


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