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UK: Phytophthora Ramorum & Phytophthora Kernoviae

Department for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (UK)

Consultation on the future management of Phytophthora Ramorum and Phytophthora Kernoviae

Defra, the Forestry Commission and the Welsh Assembly Government today (15 July) launched a joint consultation on the future management of Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae.

Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae are fungus-like pathogens which can kill some types of shrubs and trees, such as the European beech, and pose a threat to garden plants, woodlands and native heathland. The presence of Phytophthora ramorum in Great Britain was first detected in 2002, and the first discovery of Phytophthora kernoviae in Great Britain occurred in 2003.

Since the first discovery of each disease, emergency action has been taken and a policy of containment and eradication has been pursued. During that time scientific and economic evidence has been gathered to inform a choice on future management of both diseases.

A broad range of stakeholders have shown an interest in the management of these diseases, including private landowners, managers of public and historic gardens, nurserymen and garden centre managers, importers and exporters of plants, those with responsibility for managing woodland and heathland environments, and the public who visit the countryside and gardens.

The consultation paper has been produced in liaison with representatives of these principal stakeholder groups. It seeks views on where the level of disease management should be set in the future. It asks whether controls should be reduced to a level which meets the minimum requirements set by the EU, but which may involve some continued disease spread within England and Wales; or whether a programme of increased activity aimed at reducing the presence and potential spread of the diseases should be implemented

Jeff Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health, said:

"Despite five years of emergency action Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae have continued to spread, albeit slowly, in the nursery trade and the wider environment. We now know that they have the potential to cause significant harm to businesses and the natural landscape, and we need to decide on a policy for future management of the diseases.

"The management of Phytophthora ramorum and Phytophthora kernoviae has implications for many people, and the options for future controls present each different stakeholder group with new challenges. This consultation offers the opportunity for each sector to assess how changes in future disease management may affect it, and to influence the policy direction. I urge all stakeholder groups to consider carefully the science and economic information presented in this consultation and to contribute to the discussion on which approach is best for the natural environment, industry and the public good."

The consultation will run until 10 October 2008. A copy of the consultation document can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/phytophora-ram-kern/.

Notes to editors

1. The principal sporulating host for both pathogens is Rhododendron ponticum. Other known hosts include Camellia Pieris and Viburnum shrubs, while the principal trees affected are European beech, Roble beech and Turkey oak. Of the two, P. kernoviae appears more aggressive, with 56 European beech trees affected (P. ramorum: 8). Only three native oaks have been confirmed infected with bleeding cankers: 2 Common oaks (Quercus robur) with P. kernoviae and 1 Sessile oak (Q. petraea) with P. ramorum. Trees with bleeding cankers do not produce spores and are not a source of further infection. However, some trees, including Turkey oak, have developed foliar infection, which can produce inoculum which could lead to disease spread. A full breakdown is given in the consultation document.

2. Action against these two Phytophthora species is managed through an inter-departmental programme board which is chaired by Defra and includes representatives from the Forestry Commission (including Forest Research), The Scottish Government, the Central Science Laboratory and Defra.

3. The Scottish Government is responsible for disease management outside woodland areas and is consulting separately on disease management in non-woodland areas in Scotland. The Forestry Commission has responsibility for the protection of trees and woodland throughout Great Britain, and will not be consulting separately in Scotland.

Client ref 224/08
COI ref 163358P

ENDS

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