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The first event in RSB’s new plant health initiative, funded by Defra, saw almost 200  people join to discuss the development of the new GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy.

The event included a presentation by UK chief plant health officer Professor Nicola Spence CBE FRSB as she delivered a whistle-stop tour of previous successes regarding plant health as well as future challenges the strategy aims to address.

The event was chaired by Professor Jeremy Pritchard FRSB, professor of life sciences education and director of education at the University of Birmingham. Professor Pritchard also chairs the RSB’s Plant Health Advisory Group.

Defra is due to publish the new Plant Biosecurity Strategy later this year, following a broad public consultation in the autumn of 2021.

Professor Spence outlined the successes of the current Plant Biosecurity Strategy, but the need to update this in the light of emerging threats as well as regulatory and trade changes following Brexit.

Key achievements include the publication of the UK Plant Health Risk Register, the publication of a Generic Contingency Plan for Plant Health in England and a number of biosecurity campaigns.

Professor Spence explained the new strategy will look to tailor and strengthen Great Britain’s ability to prevent the introduction of pests and pathogens using a number of approaches.


They hope to improve public awareness of the need to maintain a healthy plant environment as well as increase partnerships between the Government and industry to support a biosecure plant supply chain and domestic production.

They also hope to draw on emerging technologies to keep pace with changing threats and ensure preparedness for future threats and outbreaks.

Professor Spence then fielded questions from the audience which included discussion about potential citizen science projects and how to educate the next generation on the importance of plant health.

You can watch the event in full on the RSB’s YouTube channel.

Future events in this series aimed to support and engage with early career plant health professionals will include an annual one-day mini-conference, taking place this year in Birmingham on 21 June 2022, with further details to be announced shortly.

Please email to register your interest for this event.