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Stronger roots

Published: 6 Mar 2016 00:01

Launch of first Scottish Plant Health Strategy.

Green-fingered Scots are being urged to do the right thing when it comes to sourcing plants, with the publication of the first national plant health strategy.

Bringing plants and trees into Scotland from holiday and purchasing plants with unknown provenance on the internet can see the inadvertent introduction of pest and disease threats to our natural environment. With £1.8bn of our economy reliant on good plant health, the new strategy sets out how best to protect agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the wider environment in Scotland.

The Scottish Plant Health Strategy also outlines:

  • The appointment of a Scottish Chief Plant Health Officer
  • Establishing a Centre of Expertise for Plant Health in Scotland

Confirming the publication, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform 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 wellbeing. 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.

"It's easy to think bringing plants into Scotland from holiday or buying via the internet is consequence-free but in reality this can introduce serious threats to our plant life and rural economy. This is particularly pertinent at this time when Xylella fastidiosa, a disease that affects a wide range of plants and trees, has made its presence felt in parts of mainland Europe.

"I'd urge all Scots to act responsibly when sourcing plants, be they for domestic or commercial use. Plant and tree pests do not respect borders and we continue to work closely with those involved with the UK Plant Health Service as well as in the EU and further afield.

"I'm pleased to confirm the Scottish Government's intention to recruit a Scottish Chief Plant Health Officer, demonstrating the high priority the Scottish Government is placing on plant health now and for future generations. We also intend to establish a Centre of Expertise for Plant Health, where vital research to underpin good plant health can be supported and advanced."

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment Richard Lochhead said:

"Our booming food and drink industry is reliant on agriculture, which in turn depends on good plant health. Many in the industry are already following good practices on this issue and I would urge others to take similar care to preserve and protect our valuable plant life."

Notes to editors

The Scottish Plant Health Strategy is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/7136