Plant Health Week: 10th - 16th May 2021
As part of Plant Health Week 2021, Fera is proud to highlight the role it has played in the protection of plants from harmful pest and diseases in the UK, over many years.
As the National Reference Laboratory for Plant Health in England and Wales, Fera plays a key role in protecting the UK against the introduction and spread of harmful pests and diseases, providing diagnostic testing for both the UK plant health service and directly to UK growers. Over the last 12 months, Fera has examined nearly 24,000 samples and performed over 33,000 tests on behalf of the plant health service. These samples are from inspections carried out on imported plants and produce; from surveillance for pests and diseases on plants in horticulture, agriculture and the wider environment; and in support of exports of UK plants and produce.
In addition to the work for the UK plant health service, Fera is also able to provide support directly to industry, through it's UK leading Plant Clinic and, during the same period, Fera tested a further 2800 samples sent directly by growers.
Outside of UK work, Fera provides diagnostic support further afield; biodiversity in the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) is globally significant and is recognised as being under threat from invasive alien species. Preventing the establishment of invasive alien species in the UKOTs is a strategic priority for the UK Government, and Fera has led a Defra-funded project to provide an identification service for invasive invertebrate plant pests for the UKOTs since November 2009. The last year has been difficult, with COVID restrictions hampering the taking and posting of samples from these territories, but Fera still received 233 samples from six territories (Ascension Island, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat, Saint Helena and South Georgia) and examined 585 individual specimens and photographs that were found in association with 65 plant species. At least 125 invertebrate species were identified, with new records found on two islands, including two major new invasive plant pests.
Fera is pleased to see how public awareness of plant health has increased over recent years and fully supports the wide range of activities taking place during UK Plant Health Week.