Have your say on the risks of plant pests and pathogens for habitat creation and restoration

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10 October 2021, UK: Researchers from the James Hutton Institute are seeking views from anyone involved in habitat restoration or creation, from across the UK. Through a survey devised in partnership with Scotland’s Plant Health Centre and NatureScot, Hutton ecologists seek to better understand the plant health risks associated with habitat creation and habitat restoration.

The number of non-native pests and pathogens in the UK has increased in recent years due to global trade and climate change. These pests and pathogens have the potential to have significant impacts on our natural environment, as seen with the recent establishment of the non-native fungus that is causing ash die-back and the death of many ash trees in the UK.

Habitat restoration or creation often involves the movement of plants, machinery or soil which may accidentally result in the spread of plant pests and pathogens, potentially with serious unintended consequences.

Dr Ruth Mitchell, an ecologist in the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences department, said: “We are interested in finding out how aware those involved in habitat creation and restoration are of the potential plant health risks, what risk assessments they use and what guidelines they follow to minimize any risks.

“We are also interested in understanding what, if any new guidance with respect to plant health and habitat restoration and creation is required.

“This work will identify if plant health risks are taken into account during habitat restoration and creation and how guidance can be improved to minimize any risks.”

The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and is open until the end of November.

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