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Plants Need Passports Too! Wins Bronze Award At Chelsea 2014
Plants Need Passports Too! Wins Bronze Award At Chelsea 2014
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Plants Need Passports Too!’ wins bronze award at Chelsea

The Food and Environment Research Agency’s (Fera) ‘Plants Need Passports Too’ exhibit has been awarded a bronze medal in the Discovery section at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014.

Fera, supported by Department for Environment, Food, Rural Affairs (Defra), Forestry Commission, Scottish Government and Border Force created the award winning exhibit to demonstrate how pests and diseases can be unintentionally introduced into the UK, and to inform individuals about the steps they can take to help mitigate the risk.

While Government and industry are working hard together to uphold our biosecurity, the public also have an important role to play. The inspiring exhibit encourages the public to help protect our natural environment from pests and diseases too. Simple, common sense steps that everyone can take include:
•    When travelling, try to avoid bringing back plants, seeds, fruit, vegetables or flowers - if you do wish to bring plants into the country, make sure you know the rules – see www.gov.uk/bringing-food-animals-plants-into-uk/plants;
•    clean walking boots and outdoor gear before returning home from abroad;
•    when buying plants, ensure you purchase them from reputable suppliers; and
•    familiarise yourself with significant pest and disease threats to the UK and report any suspected findings – see www.fera.defra.gov.uk/pestsanddiseases

Paul Beales, Plant Pathologist at Fera, said: “We have received fantastic feedback and generated lots of media attention which has made the exhibit a huge success, by spreading the message and encouraging a large audience to play their part in protecting our environment.”

Beales added: “Having the opportunity to meet so many enthusiastic and passionate people through the week will, in addition to a bronze medal, continue to raise awareness, empowering us to all work together to eliminate risks.”

Chief Plant Health Officer, Nicola Spence, said:  “It’s great to be able to attend Chelsea and to highlight the importance of preventing pests and diseases entering the UK through plant imports. Safeguarding the future of our plants is enormously important for all of us - they supply the air we breathe, support our economy and provide us all with enjoyment and recreation. We all have a part to play in protecting them from the threat of pests and diseases.”

Hillary Aldridge, Chief Executive at Fera, also commented “The RHS Chelsea Flower Show offers us a fantastic opportunity to raise public awareness and provide advice on how everyone can help prevent the introduction and spread of tree and plant pests and diseases.”

The exhibit is based around a shipping container filled with packing cases, luggage overflowing with plants and a specimen oak tree. Emerging from the planting are larger than life models of some of the pests and diseases that threaten our trees and plants. This highlights plant pest and disease risks related to bringing back plants, seeds, fruit and vegetable from trips abroad, and the importance of buying plants from reputable suppliers that follow biosecurity best practise.

Novel features include oversized models of pests including Citrus longhorn beetle, Oak processionary moth and the symptoms resulting from Fuchsia gall mite.  These invasive pests can kill plants and trees or weaken them, making them more susceptible to harmful diseases. Government continuously undertakes monitoring, surveillance, contingency planning, awareness raising and research to ensure that the risks are controlled.

After the show, elements of the exhibit will be retained by Fera, to be re-displayed at events taking place to celebrate Fera’s centenary year – celebrating 100 years of providing Science Solutions.