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UK Trees Under Threat of Pests and Disease

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Recently, the Forestry Commission in the UK has warned that their trees there are facing an “unprecedented level of threat” from pests and diseases. UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman launched the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan in October 2011, warning that millions of trees could be lost in the next few years as a result of invasive species, pathogens such as Phytophthora ramorum, and pests such as the great spruce bark beetle. Since the UK is an island, the trees are even more vulnerable: “If pests do get through, then they arrive without the spectrum of natural enemies and that is one element that can make the effect within the arrival country much worse than in the country of origin,” explained Hugh Evans, head of Forest Research in Wales. There are current control measures in the UK, explains John Morgan, head of the Forestry Commission’s Plant Health Service. “We try to prevent pest and diseases entering the country; then, if they have arrived, we switch to a policy of eradication and try to stop them becoming established.” Failing that, they try to contain the spread of the pest or disease and practise other tree care efforts.



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