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The Royal Society of Biology supports a new action plan to protect plants from pests and diseases published today by Defra, a strategy the society helped formulate.


Our plants and trees are vital natural capital. Defra has estimated their total annual value to the UK at £15.7 billion per year, comprising the economic, environmental and social benefits our plants and treescapes provide – from agricultural and horticultural production to timber, medicines and wider co-benefits including for public wellbeing.

The health of our plants and plant products is therefore of vital importance but is increasingly under threat from pests and diseases.

The strategy has outlined a number of outcomes, including: a world class biosecurity regime, a society that values healthy plants, a biosecure plant supply chain, and an enhanced technical capability.

RSB has been working with Defra and partner organisations on our programme of plant health professional development opportunities, the Plant Health Undergraduate Studentships and in embedding biosecurity in the National Curriculum.

Highlighting the issues of biosecurity and the associated effects on plant health to students at all levels presents an opportunity for them to develop an understanding of plant health and the value and importance of plants.

We are also pleased to see the commitment to continue and expand career opportunities in this sector, as these are fundamental in facilitating future generations of plant health workers.

Likewise, the expansion of the Royal Society of Biology Plant Health Professional register will help facilitate the development of key competencies of workers in a variety of plant health areas.

Biosecurity is increasingly recognised not just as an important tool in the fight against climate change, but also in reducing poverty and hunger and boosting economic development.

Therefore, RSB welcomes that international collaboration is one of the key future focus areas in the strategy, as this is fundamental in both the prevention and treatment of future and existing plant health risks.

The RSB responded in March 2022 to the Cabinet Office call for evidence on the UK’s biological security strategy, and to the earlier DEFRA consultation on a plant biosecurity strategy for Great Britain in 2021.

The full text of Defra’s strategy can be read online.