A new requirement for the forestry sector will be piloted to combat the threat from pests and diseases and further strengthen UK biosecurity, Defra and the Forestry Commission announced today (Wednesday 20 April).
The Biosecure Procurement Requirement means that, from June 2022, applicants for funding under the England Woodland Creation Offer and the Future Farming Tree Health Pilot must commit to sourcing their trees from suppliers who are either accredited under the Plant Healthy Certification Scheme or who have passed a Ready to Plant assessment, as provided by Fera Science Ltd.
The threat of pests and disease is significant and growing as a result of globalisation and climate change. Introducing the Biosecure Procurement Requirement pilot now will address these risks to our biosecurity, minimise the net loss to our existing treescape, and serve to realise our long-term vision for our trees and woodlands.
This pilot will enable suppliers to demonstrate that their operational practices comply with the industry benchmark Plant Health Management Standard. This Standard includes protocols which are key to developing a robust plant health management system and sets out practical requirements for suppliers to help protect the plant supply chain.
Professor Nicola Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said: “Our biosecurity standards are among the highest in Europe. As we build back greener, we must consider new and ambitious ways to not simply maintain these standards but further strengthen them.
“By leading the way with this new pilot, we are addressing the significant and increasing threat of pests and diseases and building a strong biosecurity culture across the country.”
Sir William Worsley, Forestry Commission Chair, said: “Our nation’s biosecurity will be integral to the success of our tree planting ambitions.
“This pilot will ensure that the forestry sector plays its role in upholding rigorous standards of biosecurity and in doing so, safeguards our much-loved trees and forests for generations to come.”
The launch of the Biosecure Procurement Requirement Pilot fulfils a commitment within the England Trees Action Plan, which sets out our long-term plan for England’s trees, woodlands and forests. Healthy trees and plants benefit people, the environment, and the economy. Protecting the long-term welfare of our treescapes will underpin Government efforts to treble tree planting rates by the end of this Parliament and plant 30,000 hectares of trees across the UK per year by 2025, as well as form part of wider efforts to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
For more information on the Biosecure Procurement Pilot Requirement, read this Forestry Commission blog.