Minister calls on everyone to protect trees

Everyone has a role to play in the battle to protect trees and plants, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said today.

The Minister was speaking as he visited Chelsea Flower Show to see the ‘Stop the Spread’ garden, part-funded by Defra and the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) – a partner in the development of the OPAL tree health survey.

The garden contrasts a healthy natural environment with an avenue of lifeless trees to show what could happen if tree and plant diseases were left unchecked.

Visitors to the garden can also find out how to help control the spread of pests and diseases, including by taking part in the tree health survey.

The Minister's visit coincided with publication of the independent taskforce report on tree health and plant biosecurity, which made several recommendations on fighting pests and diseases.

“This garden shows us what the worst case scenario could be if diseases were left to take hold of our trees,” Mr Paterson said. “We’re not going to allow that to happen and today’s report will help us in the fight against pests and diseases in the future.

“We are already working on implementing a plant health risk register and are putting plans in place to predict and control the spread of tree diseases. Everyone’s got a role to play in this.”