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The Society’s new register of Plant Health Professionals has been shortlisted for a Civil Service Award.

The register was created in response to a 2014 Government report that recommended the UK develop greater capability in plant and animal health research and is one of three finalist for this year's Civil Services ‘Skills Award’.


Following increasing concern about the health of plants and the lack of both capability and capacity to improve it, Defra's Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain (April 2014) recommended that urgent action was needed to ensure that the UK has the skills to protect agriculture, forestry and the natural environment.

To provide an effective plant biosecurity service to the country, the report recommended the introduction of a professional career pathway, qualification, or professional status to encompass the unique range of skills offered by plant health professionals. It is hoped that a recognised profession will help careers advisors appeal to young minds to recruit new talent, and retain those with existing skills and experience in plant health.

Following a successful pilot exercise, a plan is now in place to register 300 government employees by 2018, with the intention of including other professional roles where a significant involvement in plant health is required.

Celia Knight FRSB, Chair of the Plant Health Professionals Register said, “The register is already attracting interest, from industry and the agri-tech sector, to early career researchers, and has the potential to bring together a great deal of expertise relevant to plant health. Our nomination for this award is already very good news for plant science.”

Roger Coppock FRSB, head of corporate and forestry support at the Forestry Commission said, “It is excellent to see that the work undertaken by our plant health inspectors and managers can now be recognised through formal accreditation. This reflects and acknowledges the expertise and skills which are required to ensure that GB plant and tree health is safeguarded to enable the British people to enjoy their wonderful environment and diverse landscapes.”

The new Plant Health Professionals Register is run independently by the RSB and scrutinised at a high level to ensure professional competency is recognised by both citizens and stakeholders as evidence of competency and skill in the plant health profession.

The Register has allowed the UK to articulate its long-term commitment to the importance of plant health to the country. It has been used as an exemplar of a new way of working and the need to invest in skills to meet current and future challenges.

The new Register joins the Society’s existing popular Professional Registers offered to members: Registered Science Technician (RSciTech), Registered Scientist (RSci), Chartered Scientist (CSci) and Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach), which are available through a licence, offered by the Science Council; and Chartered Biologist (CBiol), offered independently from the RSB.

Professional recognition signifies skills, knowledge and commitment to self-development. Registers provides a career pathway and can mark a career milestone with a commitment to increasing expertise through CPD.