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The Plant Health Professional Register has been created in response to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Government Office of Science reports1,2 recommending development of plant health skills and creating opportunities for a wider community of trained plant health professionals.

The Department is working with professional bodies to embed greater awareness of plant health as a key competency and component of continuous professional development. The register was created in 2016 for government inspectors and related officials, enhancing their official training programme to provide a better and more professional service. In 2018, a pilot exercise engaged with the Horticulture sector to extend the register to all relevant horticulturalists. We are now working with the Plant Health Alliance and their Plant Healthy Certification Scheme to develop training and competency recognition for all who need it. Work with all other relevant sectors is ongoing.

Development of the register has been funded by Defra with assistance from the York, North Yorkshire & East Riding Enterprise Partnership. Standards are overseen by an advisory group3 comprising representatives from Plant Health agencies from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Forestry Commission, a representative from the horticulture sector and the Royal Society of Biology.

 For more information, please contact the team at 

1 Defra/GoS (Dec 2014) Animal and Plant Health in the UK: Building our science capability
Defra (April 2014) Protecting Plant Health-a Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain

2 A Vision and high- level Strategy for UK Animal and Plant Health Research To 2020 and Beyond

3 Plant Health Professional Register Advisory group

Nicola Spence (Defra Chief Plant Health Officer)
Charles Lane (Fera Science Ltd)
Ahmed Hameed (APHA - England)
Nicola Cummings (DAERA – Northern Ireland)
Nia Meddins (Welsh Government)
Alan MacLeod (Defra)
Denise A’Hara (SASA)
Tim Edwards (Boningale Nurseries Ltd.)         
Maureen Wakefield (Fera Science Ltd.)
Gerry Saddler (SASA Chief Plant Health Officer - Scotland)
Katie Parker (Forestry Commission)

Plant Healthy Training Modules

Plant Healthy have developed a series of Plant Health and Biosecurity training modules which are now publicly available on their website. The 5 modules were developed with funding provided by Defra, and serve as an introduction to anyone interested in plant health and biosecurity.

The modules have been written in line with the requirements of the Plant Health Professionals Register. They support the necessary learning to prepare prospective PHPR applicants to submit an application to the Associate register grade. 


Guidance for applicants

To start your application visit our members area mySociety.

Read an overview of the competencies

See our guidance for applicants and our quick 1 page guide.

If you have questions about how to apply of the application process, please contact the register administrator at

The Royal Society of Biology is committed to ensuring equal opportunities in the life sciences, and supports diversity throughout the pipeline; at school and higher education, in the workplace and training.