The Scottish Plant Health Strategy

The strategy sets out the Scottish Government's approach to the protection of the health of plants, including agricultural and horticultural crops, and plants in parks and gardens, forestry and the natural environment, in Scotland.

3. Introduction

3.1 Safeguarding plant health in Scotland

Plant health is at the heart of Scotland's thriving rural economy and natural environment. There are increasing risks to plant health from the globalisation of trade, and the consequent threat of introduction of new pests and invasive non-native species, as well as the additional pressure of climate change.

This strategy aims to protect a £1.8 billion [6] sector of the Scottish rural economy, which includes agriculture, horticulture, parks and gardens, forestry and the natural environment. Plant health also underpins the Scottish £14 billion food and drink sector [7] , which includes £5.1 billion food and drink exports [8] , and the UK's food production ( e.g. the £4 billion UK potato industry [9] ).

Protection of plant health is also vital for the forestry sector. In Scotland, forests and woodlands cover 1.4 million ha, which is approximately 18% of our land area and 45% of the UK's forest area. The timber harvest is 7.5 million tonnes per year. The gross value added of the forest industries in Scotland including forestry-related tourism is £954 million per annum [10] .

The 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity [11] highlights the need to protect biodiversity. This states that environmental benefits include contributing over £21.5 billion annually to the Scottish economy and the £43 million per year insect pollination services.

Safeguarding plant health is therefore essential for achieving the following SG National Outcomes:

  • We realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people.
  • We live in a Scotland that is the most attractive place for doing business in Europe.
  • We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations.
  • We live longer, healthier lives.
  • We reduce the local and global environmental impact of our consumption and production.
  • Our public services are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people's needs.

Safeguarding plant health therefore:

  • underpins the development of the economic potential of the Scottish agriculture, horticulture, forestry, rural land use and food and drink sectors;
  • enhances production efficiency;
  • protects the natural environment, including amenity sites and gardens; and
  • maintains wholesome environments for rest and relaxation.

Implementation of the strategy will also help to protect Scotland's economic and environmental resources and support initiatives to develop new and maintain existing markets for Scottish plants and plant products.

3.2 Strategic context

The SG works within the framework of EU plant health law [12] and international plant health agreements [13] . Protecting the health of plants is important to many strategic targets and this strategy complements the following Scottish and GB strategies:

  • The Scottish Forestry Strategy 2006 [14] , a framework for taking forestry forward through the first half of this century and beyond.
  • Science and Innovation Strategy for Forestry in Great Britain [15] (see section 5.6).
  • The Invasive Non-Native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain, originally published in 2008 and updated in 2015 [16] , is intended to provide a strategic framework within which the actions of government departments, their related bodies and key stakeholders can be better co-ordinated.
  • The 2020 Challenge for Scottish Biodiversity [11] , a strategy to protect and restore Scotland's biodiversity. This was published in 2013 and supplemented the 2004 Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.
  • The Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme [17] , launched in 2014, considered the most important impacts of the changing climate on the natural environment and sets out the SG's related objectives associated with the identified climate risks. Part 2 of the Programme considers a number of issues related to pests and diseases in the natural environment.
  • Animal and Plant Health in the UK: building our science capability [18] , a strategy to set the strategic direction and priorities for UK animal and plant health science and to ensure the UK has the science capability, in the provision of research, evidence and laboratory services, to underpin best practice management over the next 10-15 years.

The strategy is fully compatible with the SG's objectives in Scotland's Economic Strategy [19] of protecting and enhancing our natural capital. This is fundamental to a healthy and resilient economy and supports the agriculture, horticulture, forestry, tourism and renewables sectors.

Plant health must take into account potential impacts of climate change and should be a consideration in the discussion on the Future of Scottish Agriculture that was launched in June 2015 [20] . The strategy also underpins Scotland's food and drink policy [21] .

3.3 Implementing the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain [4]

The GB strategy was published on 30 April 2014 and provides a high level overview of the activity that Defra with the Forestry Commission and the Devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales are undertaking to improve plant biosecurity. Northern Ireland is developing a similar strategy with the Republic of Ireland.

The shared vision for plant biosecurity to 2020 " to protect plants from pests that have been identified as priorities for action, and to build awareness of the risks from pests, knowledge of how to reduce those risks and to introduce a system of management that will incentivise risk reduction" applies equally to this Scottish strategy.

The GB strategy sets out plans to provide robust protection for crops, trees and other plants building upon and enhancing the work already undertaken by the Plant Health Services across GB. It provides the overarching principles and underpinning requirements for effective actions, together with a broad overview of the work to be undertaken before import, at the border and inland (the biosecurity continuum) ( Figure 1). The GB strategy is flexible to ensure the systems are dynamic and constantly evolving to keep pace with changing threats.

3.4 Achievements since April 2014

In Scotland, progress has been made since the publication of the GB strategy. Some examples of the actions to implement it are provided in Appendix 2.

3.5 Stakeholders and SG working together

The SG's role is to prevent entry, establishment and spread of quarantine pests [22] and potential quarantine pests. Where outbreaks of such pests occur, we aim to eradicate them, or contain them if necessary. We along with relevant sectors also ensure that the incidence of regulated non-quarantine pests [23] is maintained within the required tolerance levels on planting material (such as for seed potato classification and fruit plant marketing schemes). Stakeholders already take measures to control crop and horticultural pests and to minimise the build-up of pests in forests and the wider environment.

Figure 1: Framework for government action on plant pests and biosecurity continuum (from the GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy)

This Scottish Plant Health Strategy focuses on actions to meet our obligations regarding regulated pests and to address risks from new and emerging plant pests. It describes how the SG will work in partnership with Scottish stakeholders. It has been developed in consultation with stakeholders and is based on the fact that safeguarding plant health is a shared responsibility.

The actions in this strategy reflect commitments made by stakeholders to play their part in safeguarding the health of plants in Scotland.

Over the period of this strategy some plant health controls will be strengthened as a result of the implementation of the forthcoming EU Regulations on Protective Measures against Pests of Plants and on Official Controls. SG and stakeholders will work together to ensure measures are put in place and to implement these measures effectively.


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