UK government launches tree biosecurity plan
The UK government has said that it will invest £7m to tackle tree diseases, amid fears that millions of trees could be lost unless urgent action is taken.
The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity action plan was launched as scientists confirmed the arrival of a deadly disease in England among urban trees.
Phytophtora lateralis was recorded in Devon on a Lawson cypress, a popular species in parks and gardens.
Ministers hope the plan will tighten biosecurity measures and protect trees.
"If we don't act now, we could end up with a similar situation to the 1970s when more than 30 million trees in the UK died [as a result of] Dutch elm disease," said Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman as she launched the action plan.
"[The] action plan dedicates £7m to finding ways to combat exotic pests and diseases, as well as introducing stricter controls on plants and cuttings being brought across the UK's borders."
However, the funding is not new money from the Treasury. It is funding from within Defra's existing science budget that will be allocated to tree health and biosecurity research.
Recently, one of the UK's leading tree ecology experts - Dr Keith Kirby from English Nature - warned that the risk from pests and diseases facing the nation's oaks had left the species' future "at a crossroads".
The action plans sets out ways a number of measures to help protect trees in the future, including:
- Minimising the risk of new threats entering the UK
- Learn more about the current threats within the UK
- Improve awareness among people of the current array of pest and diseases
- Improve surveillance
Source: BBC News