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Strategy launched to tackle pest and disease threats to Britains trees


A new strategy for protecting Britains trees and forests from pests and diseases was launched today.

This is an interim strategy, pending an integrated cross-government approach to biosecurity following the current EU review of its plant health regime. It is a response to the increasing threat to trees and woods from pests and diseases arising from the rapid expansion of global trade and the changing climate. It was prepared by the Forestry Commission under the direction of the GB Biosecurity Programme Board, representing the forest industries and the wider forestry and plant health community.

Welcoming publication of the strategy, Jim Paice, Forestry Minister in the UK Government, said,

“We need to manage and control the unprecedented threats from pests and diseases which Britains trees, woods and forests face. Thats why weve commissioned an action plan on tree health and plant biosecurity. The action plan is one part of a whole range of measures we’re using to combat the threat of disease to our woodland and forests”

Tim Rollinson, Forestry Commission Director-General, added,

The Tree Health Strategy provides leadership in these uncertain times, by identifying the threats, by setting out a clear strategy for addressing them, and by supporting active engagement from woodland and tree owners and managers to mitigate them.

The strategy identifies three key lines of defence. First, through our border controls, we work to prevent pests from entering Britain. Second, in the event of a new outbreak, we move as quickly as we can to eradicate the threat, or if this is not possible, to contain it. Finally, we might have to learn to live with some new pests and diseases, and adapt our tree and forest management regimes to reduce the threats they pose.

The new strategy can be downloaded from the Biosecurity pages of the Forestry Commissions website. Further information is available from the Forestry Commissions Plant Health Service, 0131 314 6414;

1. The Tree Health Strategy will facilitate a consistent approach to addressing pest and disease threats across England, Scotland and Wales. Production of the strategy was overseen by the Biosecurity Programme Board, which aims to “Preserve the health and vitality of our forests, trees and woodlands through strategies which exclude, detect, and respond to, existing and new pests and pathogens of trees, whether of native or exotic origin.” Members are Chris Inglis (ConFor), David Sulman (UKFPA), John Dye (TIMCON), Nick Boulton (TTF), John Heuch (Arboricultural Association), Andrew Sharkey (Woodland Trust), Forestry Commission biosecurity experts, and plant health experts from England, Scotland and Wales.

2. This is an interim strategy pending development of an integrated approach to plant health (covering tree and wider plant health) across government. The timing and direction of this will be influenced by EU negotiations on a new plant health regime. In the meantime the interim tree health strategy provides necessary direction for current activities.

3. Tree and plant health in the UK is subject to European as well as domestic regulation and legislation. European plant health regulation is being reviewed with a view to strengthening the European Unions response to the growing threat from pests and diseases, and the UK is fully engaged in the review.

4. Among the key new tree pests and diseases to emerge in Britain in recent years are Phytophthora ramorum, Phytophthora kernoviae, Phytophthora lateralis, acute oak decline, bleeding canker of horse chestnut caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pathovar aesculi, oak processionary moth and pine-tree lappet moth. Further information about these and other pests and diseases of trees is available at

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