Ireland: Ag minister calls for greater Forestry and Plant Health vigilance

Andrew Doyle TD, the Irish Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Forestry and Horticulture, has welcomed the UN General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution proclaiming 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). Minister Doyle, who has been a strong advocate for the IYPH stated that “the International year would contribute to several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, as well as supporting FAO’s strategic objectives around important issues such as world hunger and climate action."

He continued: “In addition, the development of an FAO IPPC strategic framework for 2020 to 2030 for Plant Health and specifically those strategic objectives around trade development and facilitation, biosecurity and sustainable production, together with protecting the Environment can only be further enhanced through the awareness raising that the International Year of Plant Health will deliver.”

This year the Department embarked on developing a new Plant Health Strategy which will complement the International Year of Plant Health and further help raise awareness around the importance of plant health. The Minister urged stakeholders to continue to engage in the development of the strategy. A draft of the document will be available on the Department’s website shortly for public comment.

Commenting on the recently announced first finding in the wider environment of the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle Ips typographus in Kent in England the Minister stated “my Department is in close contact with both GB and Northern Ireland counterparts on this issue. Together with our Northern Ireland colleagues, we are implementing a coordinated approach on the island of Ireland in response to this recent finding in England. As the presence of the pest in England increases the level of risk of its introduction into Ireland, the Department will carry out additional risk based surveys in Ireland to provide added assurance that the pest is not present or introduced.”

The Minister concluded that “raising awareness among industry and citizens by campaigns such as the ‘Don’t Risk It’ campaign and being prepared for new challenges will be key to reducing the risk to forest and plant health in Ireland. I am calling on the forestry and horticultural sectors to be extra vigilant regarding maintaining Ireland’s good plant health status and to report any ill health concerns to the Department.”

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