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Mar 24 2014

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Committee of MPs calls for strategic preventative approach to tree health and plant biosecurity.

Environment Food and Rural Affairs Commitee alternativeThe Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on Tree health and plant biosecurity earlier this month has called for amore strategic, preventative approach arguing that “the Government must act with urgency to address the skills gap that we currently face”. The committee warned that the ash dieback outbreak had highlighted a lack of definition of roles and responsibilities in UK plant health authorities and called for improved coordination and collaboration. It also advocated changes in funding for long term research, contrasting the annual cost of tree disease (estimated as £172m excluding ash dieback) with the £5.7m being spent this current financial year by DEFRA and the Forestry Commission on tree health research, a figure set to reduce next year.

Ann McIntosh, Chair of the Committee said: “The Government’s efforts so far to combat plant disease are to be welcomed, but we must strengthen our own capability to predict, monitor, control and mitigate the impact of pests and diseases on plants here in the UK”.

She added:

“… disease risks to plants in the UK are rising significantly but funding for research in this area has not kept pace. One of Defra’s new priorities is to safeguard plant health: long term funding must reflect this accordingly.”

The report can be read in full here.

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